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Wisconsin State Jury Awards $392,300 To Best Buy Customer Who Claimed PTSD From Racist Geek Squad Employee's False Police Report

On July 19, 2012, Brandon Hall, an employee of Best Buy Co., Inc., and a member of the "Geek Squad," went to the home of Hugh Saddler, an African-American male, to repair a television. Plaintiff Sunshine Guerrero, Saddler's wife, a Hispanic woman with light complexion, opened the door. She claimed that when she asked Hall if he had "booties" to cover his shoes, he replied "Oh, no problem, I just didn't think I needed them. You know, black people over here have rats and roaches and they don't care." Saddler claimed that when he showed Hall the upstairs television, Hall stated "I'm not fixing your television. I'm out of here." Saddler allegedly asked to speak to a supervisor. Hall then called 911 and claimed that Saddler was holding him hostage.

Saddler, who was on bail from an unrelated incident occurring in Minnesota, claimed to be terrified of the ramifications of being arrested, and called 911 himself, explaining the circumstances in response to Hall's 911 call.  When multiple police cars arrived, Saddler asked them to review his security camera footage allegedly demonstrating Hall's false allegation of being held hostage. Neither party was cited in the incident.

Saddler and Guerrero filed a complaint against Best Buy Co., Inc., on July 23, 2013, in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, 1st Judicial Circuit, WI. Plaintiffs alleged that Hall had a history of making bigoted, outrageous and egregious comments regarding minorities and refusing to wait on minority customers unless ordered to do so by management at the Best Buy store where he worked. Plaintiffs claimed that Best Buy was negligent in the hiring, training, and supervision of Hall. Best Buy denied the allegations, claiming that Hall was not known to be a racist and that Saddler had been blocking Hall's exit from the home with his body. Saddler, who had undergraduate and graduate degrees, claimed to have been so traumatized from this incident that he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sufficiently severe to disable him from any employment. Plaintiff's expert stated that this incident was the cause of Saddler's PTSD. Best Buy's expert acknowledged PTSD symptoms, but maintained they were not caused by this incident and stemmed from other unrelated events. The action was assigned to Judge William Sosnay.

On Oct. 12, 2015, the jury returned a verdict awarding plaintiffs $392,300, including $14,000 for past medical expenses; $77,000 for past loss of earning capacity; $231,000 for future loss of earning capacity; $26,000 for past pain and suffering; $42,000 for future pain and suffering; and $2,300 for Sunshine Guerrero's loss of consortium.

Plaintiff’s counsel was Brent D. Nistler of Nistler Law Offices. For the defense was Lynne Mueller of Litchfield Cavo, LLP. Lexis Advance subscribers can access the full summary, along with expert information, at this link: Hugh Saddler and Sunshine Guerrero v. Best Buy Co., Inc., Best Buy Stores, L.P., and Best Buy Store 2845; 2015 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 11363  

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