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That $54 Million Lawsuit Against Best Buy, Dismissed....



Crossposted from Shopfloor.org. This might fit better at Overlawyered, but it had become such a flash in the cause celebre, thought a mention here was warranted.

Raelyn Campbell had her 15 minutes of fame but lost out on the $54 million she claimed she deserved. A Washington, D.C., Superior Court judge has dismissed her lawsuit against Best Buy (a fact we have not seen reported elsewhere).

Campbell is the D.C., woman who sued the electronics retailer after she took her laptop in for repairs to the Tenleytown store (that's a neighborhood in northwest D.C.) and the computer went missing. According to her account, Best Buy wasn't up front with her about losing the device and then tried to buy her off with coupons and settlement offers. That and her supposed concerns about identification theft led her to file a $54 million suit in D.C. Superior Court last November.

The very ridiculousness of the amount -- which mimicked the $54 million suit by D.C. Judge Roy Pearson against his drycleaners for misplaced suit pants -- undermined any legitimacy of her grievances.

But the $54 million certainly gained Campbell publicity. She started a blog -- Best Buy vs. Consumer Protection Blog -- recounting her tribulations as a modern consumer. There was the NBC Today Show appearance, an interview on MSNBC, and articles in major newspapers like the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, trade publications like ComputerWorld, and activist blogs like The Consumerist.

In February, we called the suit outrageous, arguing, "The more time the court spends on her litigation after Best Buy made a serious settlement offer, the more taxpayer money the judicial system spends and the more economic resources are wasted on unproductive uses."

Campbell has been quiet lately -- her last blog post was February 15th -- a sensible silence given the fact Judge Natalia M. Combs Greene dismissed her lawsuit on February 28th. (The Superior Court's civil division has an online search function, which led us to the docket after about 10 minutes of work. The suit is 2007 CA 007641, Campbell v. Best Buy.Com, LLC.)

Best Buy has been seeking sanctions against Campbell for her lawsuit, several request rejected by the judge. However, the February 28th docket entry notes: "Deft. Atty. awarded 2 hours attorney fees as sanctions." Campbell's website provides her point of view about defense's motions challenging the service of summons and other mishandled procedural steps. But in the end, the judge dismissed the suit.

What a waste, an expensive waste. Take a look at that docket, all the orders, hearings, appearances, summons, motions -- months of work and tens of thousands of dollars (taxpayer dollars included) expended because of what, self-promotion? A legitimate complaint taken to absurd ends? Perhaps it started with a company that might have done better by a customer, but the ultimate source of all this waste was yet another American acolyte of "jackpot justice."

Addendum: The case was dismissed two months ago. Funny how the news hadn't been reported yet. And we did attempt to contact lawyers for both sides and Best Buy's corporate headquarters this morning, but have not heard back as of yet.

Addenda: This blogger has bought one laptop from Best Best, the Tenleytown store, and has had several service interactions with the company. No complaints, at all.

PointofLaw.com UPDATE: A Best Buy spokeswoman, Dawn Bryant, did respond to our e-mail inquiry before the original blog post. She said the company cannot comment at this time, but there was no settlement in the suit.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.