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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District court: Banks' claims against hospitality company for data breach may proceed

Courts Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Data Breach Class Action MDL

Courts

On February 7, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in a multidistrict litigation action that a proposed class of banks may proceed with negligence claims under Louisiana law and pursue declaratory and injunctive relief against an international hospitality company. In this case, the company’s data breach allegedly required the banks to cancel or reissue credit and debit cards, and issue refunds and credit associated with unauthorized transactions. The Louisiana bank brought the action as the representative of a class of banks that reimbursed customers for fraud on payment card accounts identified as potentially compromised because of the data breach. According to the opinion, the proposed class “has alleged facts sufficient to establish injury and causation under the Article III standing requirements.” The court rejected the company’s argument that the negligence claims are barred by Louisiana’s economic loss doctrine—which precludes recovery when the only alleged damages are economic—stating that Louisiana does not employ the doctrine in the strict sense that is applied in other states, but rather employs “a ‘duty-risk’ analysis.” The court stated that plaintiffs suing for only economic damages “must prove that there is an ‘ease of association between the rule of conduct, the risk of injury, and the loss sought to be recovered.’” The court concluded that “a reasonable trier of fact” may find an association between the company’s data collection practices and economic loss to payment card issuers. Here, the court stated, the banks are attempting to recover economic damages incurred after credit and debit cards were compromised due to the alleged negligent storage of sensitive payment card information. Moreover, the banks alleged they were forced to reimburse cardholders for fraudulent activity and incur costs to prevent future activity on those compromised cards.

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