Second Circuit Addresses Critical Issue in Data Breach Class Actions: Article III Standing Based on Allegations of Future Misuse of Personal Data

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On April 26, 2021, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of McMorris v. Carlos Lopez & Assocs., No. 19-4310, 2021 WL 1603808 (2d Cir. Apr. 26, 2021) and addressed one of the most critical issues in private data breach class actions – whether victims of a data breach can establish Article III standing by alleging they are at an increased risk of identity theft or fraud, even if their personal data has not yet been misused.

Although the district court’s ruling that plaintiffs did not establish standing was upheld, the Second Circuit found that victims of a data breach can establish standing based on a risk of future identity theft or fraud. The court also put forward a three-factor test to determine if standing exists when misuse of plaintiffs’ data has not yet occurred.

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New York Department of Financial Services and National Securities Corporation Agree to $3 Million Settlement in Cybersecurity Enforcement Action

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Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced a settlement and consent order with National Securities Corporation (National Securities) for $3 million in connection with National Securities’ violations of NYDFS’s Cybersecurity Regulation, 23 NYCRR Part 500 (Part 500).

National Securities sells life insurance, accident and health insurance, and variable life/variable annuities insurance. As part of its day-to-day operations, National Securities collects personal data from its customers.

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New York Department of Financial Services Announces $1.5 Million Settlement of Second Cybersecurity Enforcement Action

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On March 3, 2021, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced a settlement with Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS) for $1.5 million in connection with its violation of the NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation, 23 NYCRR Part 500 (Part 500). This is the second publicly-announced settlement of an enforcement action brought under NYDFS’s novel cybersecurity regulation (we wrote about the first action).

According to the consent order, in March 2020, NYDFS’ Mortgage Banking Division commenced a routine examination of RMS, which included a review of its compliance with Part 500. RMS is headquartered in Maine, but it is registered as mortgage banker in New York and other states. During the examination, NYDFS determined that RMS failed to report a March 2019 data breach incident, as required by Part 500.

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The Eleventh Circuit Finds that Potential Future Misuse of Personal Information Does Not Confer Article III Standing in Data Breach Suits

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On February 4, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a critical opinion addressing Article III standing in private data breach actions, which has been the subject of a closely watched circuit split.

The case, Tsao v Captiva MVP Restaurant Partners LLC, originated in the District Court for the Middle District of Florida where the plaintiff filed a class action complaint against the restaurant chain PDQ in connection with a May 2017 data breach. Following the breach, PDQ posted a notice to customers regarding the breach, explaining that customers’ names, credit card numbers, card expiration dates and CVVs may have been exposed.

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Community Health Systems Enters Into Five-Million-Dollar, Multi-State Settlement Agreement in Connection with 2014 Data Breach

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On October 8, 2020, Community Health Systems, Inc. (Community Health) and its subsidiary CHSPSC, LLC entered into a settlement agreement with 28 states for $5 million to resolve claims related to a 2014 data breach. Community Health owns over 200 hospitals across the United States and is one of the largest hospital networks in the country. The multi-state settlement follows a separate $2.3 million settlement that Community Health reached with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS-OCR) in connection with the same data breach.

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Data Privacy Exposure Hits the Public Sector: Lessons from the OPM Data Breach Class Action, Whistleblower Actions, and the GAO Cybersecurity Report

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Data privacy litigation and enforcement actions continue to roil the private sector, most recently with the FTC’s announcement of a $425 million settlement with Equifax in the wake of the Equifax data breach. Less discussed is the fact that data privacy and security remains a real threat in the public sector. As we recently reported, the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 16% of confirmed data breaches were in the public sector. Three recent developments highlight the breadth and scope of the threat, reflecting that federal agencies and government contractors remain vulnerable to cyberattacks and may be subject to liability for cybersecurity failures.

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