PF Chang Data Breach Class Action Dismissal Order Reviewed by Chicago Federal Appeals Court

The drastic advances in technology that have happened in recent years make many aspects of modern living much easier, but they have also put certain aspects of our lives at risk that were never at risk before. For example, as people use cash less and less and increasingly rely on their credit cards to pay for their everyday purchases, more and more people have had their credit cards compromised and used to pay for purchases they never authorized. It is now common for credit card companies to offer credit card protection, in which users won’t be made to pay for purchases they did not authorize, but credit card companies usually charge an extra fee for that protection.

Data security is doing its best to keep up with the hackers, but that’s not always possible. Many companies, especially large chains, have suffered data breaches in which hackers illegally gain access to customers’ credit card information. Since it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to locate and prosecute the hackers themselves, the company that suffered the data breach is often faced with a class action lawsuit from customers who had their credit card information exposed as a result of the company’s failure to have the proper protections in place.

When large chains suffer a data breach, it usually affects every customer who used a credit card at any one of the chain’s locations over a certain period of time. But with a recent data breach at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., only 33 restaurants were allegedly affected by the data breach.

Two plaintiffs, Lucas K. and John L., did not eat at any of the 33 affected P.F. Chang’s locations, but they did eat at one of the chain’s locations during the specified time period of the data breach. Lucas said someone attempted to make a fraudulent charge to his credit card, but his credit card company was able to deny the transactions. John L. has not yet claimed any fraudulent charges on his credit card, but both he and Lucas K. have filed a class action lawsuit against P.F. Chang’s for the measures they had to take in order to protect their credit card information from the possibility of fraudulent charges after they were made aware of the data breach.

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed Lucas K. and John L’s claims, saying neither had alleged any actual damages and that speculation on the possibility of fraudulent charges on their cards in the future is not enough to claim an actual injury.

They appealed the decision and the dispute moved up to the Seventh Circuit Court, which may reverse the ruling of the lower court. During questioning, some of the judges argued that the Plaintiffs need to claim actual fraudulent charges on their credit cards in order to sue P.F. Chang’s, while other judges point out that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would result in further discovery, which might reveal fraudulent charges on one or both of the lead plaintiffs’ credit cards.

The Seventh Circuit Court previously reversed a ruling to dismiss a similar class action lawsuit against Neiman Marcus Group, but the Circuit Court required evidence that the plaintiffs’ information was actually breached before allowing that lawsuit to move forward. The counsel for P.F. Chang’s alleges the Neiman Marcus decision does not apply to the current lawsuit because that data breach affected all of Neiman Marcus’s stores, whereas P.F. Chang’s only experienced a breach of certain locations.

Our Schaumburg, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocatesthe National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Lake Zurich and Elk Grove Village consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Ivanhoe and Long Grove consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.  You can also call our toll free number at 630-333-0333.

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