Schnucks seeks to dismiss computer hacking suit; Company also has pending motion to transfer to MDL

By Ann Maher | Apr 22, 2015

Schnucks is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company disclosed credit and debit card numbers of hundreds of customers to computer hackers.

The suit filed in December in St. Clair County alleges the hackers gained access to Schnuck Markets’ computer network, allowing them to retrieve to customers' personal information and confidential financial data, on Dec. 9, 2012.

Schnucks removed the case to federal court in East St. Louis in January, and later sought to have the case transferred to the Eastern District of Missouri where multi district litigation involving similar claims is currently ongoing.

Represented by Russell Scott of the Greensfelder firm in Belleville, Schnucks says in its March 20 motion to dismiss that plaintiffs have failed to follow pleading standards because their complaint groups their alleged damages together without describing any specific losses of any one plaintiff.

"It is not plausible that all 206 plaintiffs suffered every category of damages...," Scott wrote. "Plaintiffs have not alleged facts sufficient to support the conclusion that any individual plaintiff has suffered a particular compensable injury that would be sufficient to satisfy the injury, causation, and damages elements of their claims for relief."

"Knowing which plaintiffs suffered which losses is particularly important because, as a matter of law, many of the harms that plaintiffs allege were suffered by the group as a whole are not cognizable under Illinois law. For example, a bald allegation of 'embarrassment' or 'mental and emotional anguish,' without additional supporting facts, is not cognizable injury under Illinois law."

While Schnucks' motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Missouri remains pending, as does the motion to dismiss, plaintiffs have objected to the transfer.

Represented by John Driscoll of St. Louis, plaintiffs say that Schnucks has "already thwarted" plaintiffs' court preference when it removed the case from St. Clair the Southern District of Illinois.

Driscoll argues that the Class Action Fairness Act, "which serves as the sole basis for federal subject matter here," prohibits transfer of removed mass actions to an MDL court unless a majority of the plaintiffs consent to transfer.

"This Court should not permit such procedural gamesmanship," Driscoll wrote on Feb. 9.

Schnucks responded to plaintiffs' objection to transferring the case on Feb. 16.

"Plaintiffs’ assertion that the Eastern District of Missouri is not a fair forum rings especially hollow in light of the fact that two of the Plaintiffs in this case, represented by the same law firm, are already parties to a still-pending lawsuit that they filed in that court seeking relief for the same injuries that they seek to remedy in the instant case," Scott wrote.

Magistrate Donald Wilkerson is handling pre-trial matters.

District Judge Michael Reagan presides.

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