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Suit Alleges Landlords Hid Camera in Bathroom : Courts: An Irvine woman contends she found a video camera behind an air-conditioning vent just days after moving in. The accused couple deny any involvement.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Irvine woman filed a lawsuit this week accusing her former landlords of perching a hidden video camera behind an air-conditioning vent in her bathroom to capture images of her as she showered and dressed.

Angela G. Fisher, 22, contacted police in July and said she had found a hidden camera, which authorities said would not violate any law. On Monday, Fisher filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court against landlords Edward J. Kligman, 57, and Catherine S. Kligman, 50, of Irvine.

The couple declined to comment Tuesday, but their attorney said the Kligmans were shocked by the claims and “they categorically deny any involvement.”

The lawsuit alleges the couple placed a newspaper advertisement to lure a young woman to move into their home and then placed a camera to spy on her. Because the alleged taping took place in a private home, the district attorney’s office told detectives no law applied to the incident, an Irvine police spokesman said.

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“In fact we’ve talked to some legislative analysts about trying to close the loophole,” Sgt. Jim Broomfield said, noting that state law seems to allow homeowners to put cameras anywhere they want in their own homes. “The idea of a family member, landlord or roommate using a camera to record someone else--you would think that would violate a person’s privacy. This is an area of the law that probably needs tightening.”

Two days after she moved in last July, Fisher was drying her hair after a shower when an object behind the grill of a ceiling vent caught her eye, the suit states. She called a friend, who removed the grill and found a video camera, according to the suit. She took the camera to police and moved out that day, Broomfield said.

Fisher, an administrative assistant for a Newport Beach capital management company, is seeking damages in excess of $12 million, citing emotional suffering and invasion of privacy.

Temecula attorney John Pozza, who represents the Kligmans, said he could not comment on the lawsuit until he saw a copy. “We will certainly be filing a response,” he said. “Beyond that, it would be really premature to comment.”

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