Wednesday, August 14, 2013
An art student at the University of Alabama is suing Best Buy, claiming staff members on their Geek Squad Technical Support circulated nude photos of her from her computer after she took it in for repairs, court documents show.
Nicole March filed a lawsuit on Aug. 9 in the U.S. District Court in Alabama, claiming an invasion of privacy, outrageous conduct, breach of contract, and negligent supervision, training and entrustment, according to court documents.
Since the photos were circulated by staffers at the Alabama franchise, March "has been caused to suffer severe mental anguish, embarrassment, and humiliation," the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, March was having difficulty with her computer's hard drive in August of 2011, and brought it to Best Buy's Geek Squad Technical Support in the Tuscaloosa, Ala., store to retrieve its data. The complaint says Geek Squad Technical Support is a subsidiary owned and operated by Best Buy.
March had been employed at that Best Buy, according to the complaint, identified as store 1540.
The complaint alleges that almost two years later, in May of 2013, an employee of the Geek Squad, Nathaniel Smith, called March and told her another Best Buy employee, Edwin Kinloch, had sent him a link with nude photographs of her and that they were "circulating" on sites including Piratesbay.sx, which enable large file transfers. The file name explicitly identified March, according to the complaint.
The complaint says that, as an art student "with an interest in the human body" March has "from time to time, had professional and privately made nude photographs of herself which she stored on her personal computer for private, personal and professional reference and use."
March notified the manager of the Best Buy in Tuscaloosa as soon as she found out about the photos, according to the complaint, and four days later an agent from the Geek Squad told her he had found the culprit and that the photographs would be deleted. However, the agent "requested that she do him the 'favor of not asking who the culprit was,'" according to the complaint, and she subsequently filed a police report.
March referred all questions to her attorneys.
One of March's attorneys, Gayle Douglas, said March is suing for monetary compensation, but the amount is being left up to the attorney.
The actions of the Geek Squad employees "cannot be tolerated in a civil society where a customer entrusts her computer to a service for repair and rescue only to have sensitive and private data, images and information uploaded to public links for use by strangers and the public at large," the complaint states.
Best Buy declined to comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson wrote in an e-mail that "Best Buy is committed to responsible customer information management practices, and our employees are trained to follow very specific procedures that govern how they manage this important information."