Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Consumers file class action in Madison County over Equifax data breach

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Sep 19, 2017

EDWARDSVILLE – Four days after the credit bureau Equifax announced its computer systems were hacked and that personal data of 143 million Americans was at risk of being stolen, two Illinois consumers filed a class action in Madison County Circuit Court.

Tyler Standfield and Ernestine Johnson, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, filed a complaint on Sept. 11, over allegations that Equifax failed to maintain safeguards to protect sensitive information in a recently announced data breach. The suit includes counts of negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and other counts.

The named plaintiffs are represented by Tor A. Hoerman and Kenneth Brennan of TorHoerman Law, LLC in Edwardsville and by Timothy Hoerman in Westmont.

According to their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that between May and July 2017, hackers accessed the names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses of 143 million people in the defendant's databases. They also allege that hackers stole credit card numbers for nearly "209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people," the suit states. 

The plaintiffs holds Equifax responsible because the defendant allegedly failed to timely inform consumers of the data breach, failed to protect sensitive credit and personal information and failed to adequately protect its database from unauthorized access by third-party hackers.

They allege Equifax knew about the breach on July 29, but waited until Sept. 7 to inform the public.

"The delay in informing the public exposed affected individuals to an unjustifiably high risk of credit harm and identity theft," the suit says.

In a Bloomberg opinion piece published Sept. 15, the news site says the "monumental" data breach draws attention "to a long-neglected gap in the U.S. System of financial oversight.

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ought to take the lead in putting this right."

The Madison County suit is among many that already have been filed, with more likely to come.

A report in Market Watch states that a $70 billion class action was filed in Oregon immediately after the breach announcement.

The report goes on to state that a bigger legal threat is what could be coming from state attorneys general.

"Several state attorneys general, including from Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have already contacted Equifax in response to the announcement by the company on Sept. 7 that criminals hacked a U.S. website application to gain access to private information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and even drivers’ license numbers," the report states.

The Madison County plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek judgment in favor of the putative class in an amount of more than $50,000 plus punitive damages, attorneys' fees, costs, an order for the defendant to preserve all documents and information and other relief the court deems necessary and proper. 

Madison County Circuit Court case number 17-L-1284

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Madison County Circuit Court TorHoerman Law LLC

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