Law360, Springfield (November 13, 2017, 10:15 PM EST) – Credit reporting agency Equifax,
which suffered a data breach over the summer that left vulnerable the personal financial
information of nearly half of all Americans, was served Friday with a rare “50-state” complaint
that aims to combine the dozens of individual suits filed against Equifax since September.
Equifax revealed the major data breach in early September, more than a month after the
company was hacked by an individual or group who exploited a security hole Equifax was told
to patch earlier in the year. In the wake of the company’s announcement, at least 150 suits
have been filed against Equifax nationwide, ranging from complaints by individuals affected by
the breach to suits lodged by cities like Chicago.
Friday’s complaint aims to consolidate dozens of individual cases to the Northern District of
Georgia, where Equifax is based in Atlanta. The attorneys who filed the 50-state complaint
are well-versed in data breach litigation, having tried and settled suits involving consumer
data breaches at Home Depot, Target, Yahoo, Kmart and Arby’s. The suit includes named
plaintiffs from each state who claim to have been injured to varying degrees by the Equifax
On Equifax’s home turf, Georgia resident Robert Hunt alleges his data was exposed by
Equifax’s negligence and that he has suffered ever since.
“As a result of the Equifax data breach, Mr. Hunt has experienced fraud, as unauthorized
mortgages and loans have been applied for in his name,” the complaint said. “Also as a result
of the Equifax breach, Mr. Hunt has spent numerous hours monitoring his accounts and
addressing issues arising from the Equifax data breach.”
In Illinois, Douglas Benz has also spent a lot of his time since his information was stolen
attempting to repair the situation and has even had to resort to filing a police report,
according to the complaint.
“As a result of the Equifax data breach, Mr. Benz has experienced fraud, as someone has
attempted to open multiple credit accounts in his name using his Social Security number and
date of birth,” the complaint said.
Other named plaintiffs have experienced identity theft, unauthorized credit and debit card
charges and have been alerted to attempts to apply for unauthorized student loans and even
an unauthorized post office box, according to the complaint.
The suit details the alleged egregiousness of Equifax’s failure to protect consumer data,
especially because consumers themselves don’t explicitly think about consenting to sharing
their data with Equifax or the other two major credit reporting agencies on a day-to-day
basis. But the credit reporting that Equifax and others do is vital for a consumer’s buying
power, as the agencies tell banks and even potential employers about a person’s credit
“Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting companies used by thousands of businesses
to assess the credit worthiness of customers and prospective customers, failed spectacularly
in protecting that data,” the complaint said. “Its misfeasance has allowed thieves to steal the
valuable personal identification and financial information of more than 145.5 million
Americans — nearly half of the United States’ population.”
The complaint also details other allegations against Equifax, including steps the company
supposedly failed to take before the breach and alleged missteps the company took after,
including failing to recognize the breach for over three months, failing to warn consumers for
another month after discovering the breach, and sending confusing messages to consumers
about how to protect themselves after Equifax’s announcement.
Counsel for the proposed class declined to comment on Monday. A spokesperson for Equifax
told Law360 on Tuesday that it is working with consumers after the breach.
“We cannot comment on pending litigation, but want to reassure consumers that we are
remaining focused on helping them to navigate this situation and providing the best customer
support possible,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We are listening to issues consumers
have experienced and their suggestions, which are helping to further inform our actions as we
continue to improve this process.”
The putative class is represented by Kenneth Canfield of Doffermyre Shields Canfield &
Knowles LLC, Roy Barnes, John Bevis and J. Cameron Tribble of Barnes Law Group LLC,
Andrew Friedman, Douglas McNamara, Sally Handmaker and Eric Berelovich of Cohen Milstein
Sellers & Toll PLLC, Adam Levitt, Mark DiCello, Amy Keller and Daniel Ferri of DiCello Levitt &
Casey LLC, James Pizzirusso of Hausfeld LLP, Archie I. Grubb II W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III,
Andrew Brashier and Leslie Pescia of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC, Norman
Siegel, Barrett Vahle and J. Austin Moore of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, John Yanchunis and
Marisa Glassman of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group and Pat Cipollone and Robert
Gilmore of Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP.
Counsel information for Equifax could not be determined on Monday.
The case is Allen et al v. Equifax Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Georgia. A case number could not be determined on Monday.
–Editing by Alanna Weissman.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect a response from Equifax.