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August 20, 2010

Lawsuit: Former pastor blames Best Buy's Geek Squad for computer electric shock

geek_squad.jpgCharles Casey, a former pastor who used to live in Maryland, is suing Best Buy and its Geek Squad computer repair service for allegedly making negligent repairs on his computer, which caused it to shock him severely as soon as he plugged his printer into it, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in Maryland.

Casey, who lived in Cockeysville, Md., but now lives in Florida with his wife, said in the lawsuit that as soon as he plugged it in, he suffered "a severe electric shock that ran through his body, with tingling in his right hand up to his shoulder, across his tongue and down his left arm."

Casey had presented his computer for repair in early September 2007 to the Geek Squad at the Best Buy in the 1700 block of York Road in Timonium, the lawsuit states. He picked up his computer from the Geek Squad on October 22, 2007, brought it home, and plugged it in to the same, untouched set-up that he had taken it from, the lawsuit states.

When he plugged the printer into the computer, he received the jolt, according to the lawsuit. Casey, who was 73 at the time, was left with two injured arms, dislocated shoulders, and a need for physical therapy. His wife had to assist and care for Casey, since he couldn't use his arms while recuperating, according to the lawsuit.

Casey is seeking $450,000 in damages. We'll be seeking comment from both Casey and Best Buy today.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:21 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*


Is this a pseudo- retaliation against Best Buy for suing one of them (or at least threatening to) ?

(See geek squad vs god squad):'re right. -gs

Unless he was subsequently resurrected, the pastor was not electrocuted. By definition, electrocutions are fatal.

Oops. Good point. Thanks Frank. Didn't mean that in the headline, for sure! -gs

Having been to that particular BEST BUY before, nothing would surprise me.

However, it's important to note that all printer and power cables are shielded, so it would be impossible to simply get electrocuted by simply plugging either cable in unless you were touching some metal part on the computer itself that was shorted to the power supply.

And since most of today's computers have plastic or some other composition type cases, this makes me suspicious of this case, not to mention my years of experience fixing computers myself and even touching parts inside while the computer is ON!

I'd like to hear what the computer was originally taken into the shop for to have any take on this.
If it had nothing to do with the power supply itself, I'd probably disbelieve this story since all power supplies in desktop computers are completely sealed.

The story also doesn't note whether the computer actually worked or not after repair.
If it worked, it's almost impossible for there to be a power supply electrical short that would cause someone to get shocked.

And lastly, the man's age, 73. That might sound bigoted, but that's my parents age and I've seen them have some interesting computer problems over the years that they've blamed on a variety of things.

This story smells of a phony lawsuit to me and like I said, it's hardly a brain trust at that BEST BUY, trust me. But I'm very suspicious of this lawsuit on technical grounds and lack of information.

Oh, one more thing, if you plug a cable in backwards and force it enough to get some pins to make contact or put the cable in on an angle and bend a pin or 2, you could receive a jolt that way if touching a metal case, but once again, that would be the fault of the user, NOT Best Buy.

Well, as a computer repair technician myself, I have to say that even though I'm no fan of Best Buy it's somewhat unlikely that the shock was due to some fault of theirs. The biggest problem here is, in order to receive any sort of shock from a computer like this it would almost have to mean that the computer is the properly grounded which is most likely due to it not being plugged into a grounded outlet, making at least some of the blame fall on the operator. In addition, the shock itself would more likely come from a malfunction part, most likely the power supply, than from an improperly installed part.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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