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Subrosa Surveillance


  • Stryker conducts subrosa surveillance at the clients request for the purpose of monitoring a particular subject behavior or activities.Insurance companies require proof of a worker’s injuries when they are not obvious, which can be difficult for certain medical conditions. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome can be difficult to prove as it has fewer outward symptoms than some other conditions. Medical opinions and self-reported pain can be used as evidence, but insurance providers seeking to limit claims are often skeptical of such injuries.


    The law does allow employers, insurance companies and attorneys to hire private investigators to follow injured workers who have made workers’ compensation claims. However, there are limitations to what these private investigators can do. Investigators cannot enter into a claimant’s property, or even take photographs or videotape them in their home. However, investigators can take videos of claimants who are in public, meaning that investigators may videotape claimants outside of their home, or follow claimants to the grocery store, for example, and videotape them in order to catch them engaging in actions they claim they cannot perform.

    What constitutes a private place? In one Pennsylvania case, Tagouma v. Investigative Consultant Services, Inc., an investigator videotaped a workers’ compensation claimant through a window for 45 minutes while he was praying at an Islamic Center. The tape was used in his case as evidence and his claim was rejected. He filed a civil complaint against the surveillance company in court, alleging that this surveillance violated his right to privacy. The court disagreed, and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reiterated that houses of worship are public places and workers’ compensation claimants have a lowered expectation of privacy because they should expect to have their claims verified when they put their abilities and limitations at issue in a workers’ compensation case.


    There are two fundamental types of surveillance, covert (without their knowledge) subrosa a term used by insurance fraud industry to describe covert field surveillance, and overt or (open and obvious) from this foundation emerge sub-categories such as counter surveillance, inverse surveillance, computer surveillance and recent developments of electronic media and the internet, computer databases. 

    The word Sub-rosa comes from the Latin, literally “under the rose,” from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality, the origin of which traces to a famous story in which Cupid gave Harpocrates, the god of silence, a rose to bribe him not to betray the confidence of Venus. Hence, the ceilings of Roman banquet rooms were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken sub-vino (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.   

    Another although not widely used in the English dialect is Hagakure, (meaning in the Shadow of Leaves), or Hagakure Kikigaki. Hagakure chronicles ideals, spiritual concepts by Yamamoto Tsunetomo taught besides the essential spirit of Bushido the warrior code of the samurai. The written account of the orations of Yamamoto to a fellow samurai between 1709 and 1716. 

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    The law does allow employers to hire private investigators to follow injured workers who have made workers’ compensation claims.