After three dismissals, a class-action consumer lawsuit filed against Barnes & Noble over a 2012 data breach has been sent back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
In September of 2012, Barnes & Noble became aware that their credit card scanners had been compromised by “skimmers” which would collect the data from the credit cards that were swiped and transfer them to a third party, which would then sell the information online. Barnes & Noble waited a month before alerting their customers to the data breach, so in addition to allegations that Barnes & Noble failed to properly protect its customers’ data, the class action lawsuit further alleged the bookstore had violated the California Security Breach Notification Act.
Nevertheless, the district court dismissed the case three times. The class of plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision to dismiss it and sent the case back to the district court.
One plaintiff’s accounts were frozen for three days, meaning she had no access to her own funds in that time period. Another plaintiff had their credit card inactivated for a week, thereby denying them the use of that card. Yet another plaintiff reinstated credit monitoring on their card, which is an additional charge of $17.99 per month. Still another plaintiff was unable to receive the value of their Barnes & Noble’s bargain.
All plaintiffs further alleged the devaluation of their personal information, not to mention the time they spent with bank personnel and law enforcement in order to report the incident and regain access to their funds.
The monthly credit monitoring charge constitutes a form of “actual damages” under the law, while the other claims are sufficient to be filed under the claim of “lost money or property.”
Although the case has been allowed to move forward, that does not necessarily mean the plaintiffs will be successful in collecting compensation for their alleged damages. Before that can happen, they will need to actually try the case, although it is more likely that they will settle the case outside of court before it gets to that point.
Although the case will be able to move forward, the Court noted that Barnes & Noble was also a victim of the data theft, and so it points out that it won’t necessarily be easy for the plaintiffs to collect damages from a fellow victim of the crime.
That said, businesses owe a responsibility to their customers, who entrust the company with their personal information and rely on the company to keep that information secure. When a breach does happen, the company is obligated (by law in some states) to notify its customers in a timely manner of the breach, including the time frame of the breach and how many customers were affected. Since Barnes & Nobel failed to accomplish both these requirements, it’s entirely possible that the plaintiffs will be able to obtain a favorable ruling in court – assuming they don’t first reach a settlement with Barnes & Noble.
Our Naperville, Illinois class action data breach and 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 totaling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations to 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.
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