Equifax Inc. wants the lawsuits connected to its 2017 data breach dismissed, arguing that the breach caused no injuries and that it has no obligation to secure its data, which spans millions of consumers and financial institutions.
As reported by Law.com’s Daily Report, Equifax attorney David Balser filed two motions on July 16 to dismiss the class-action lawsuits filed against the company by consumers and financial institutions after its 2017 data breach – which compromised the personal information of 143 million consumers, including some Canadians – arguing that the claims were based on an unprecedented, “far-fetched,” and “attenuated theory of liability.”
In other words, that Equifax had no obligation – that, legally speaking, it owed no duty of care – to secure its customers’ personal information.
In filing the motion, Balser cited a May 11 decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which ruled that the Georgia Department of Labor owed no duty of care to more than 4,000 applicants for unemployment benefits after the Department inadvertently exposing personal data including Social Security numbers in an email.
Absolving itself of responsibility to secure the data it collects about consumers whether they want it to or not wasn’t Equifax’s only defense. According to Law.com reporter Amanda Bronstad, Balser filed an argument common in data breach cases: that the majority of plaintiffs filing suits against the company could not do so in U.S. federal court because their cases weren’t based on injuries, but speculation about the risk of identity theft.
In a statement, Norman Siegel, an attorney for the consumer plaintiffs, called it “extraordinary” that Equifax would argue that “it does not owe a duty to Americans to keep their data protected.”
“This position is contrary to the public statements Equifax has made, including its former CEO’s testimony before Congress that ‘We at Equifax clearly understood that the collection of American consumer information and data carries with it enormous responsibility to protect that data. We did not live up to that responsibility,'” Siegel wrote.
According to Law.com’s Bronstad, the consumer plaintiffs will be responding on Aug. 13, and the financial plaintiffs on Aug. 30.
Neither attorney Joseph Guglielmo, who represents the financial plaintiffs, nor Balser responded to Bronstad’s request for comment, while an Equifax press officer declined to comment.