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Heartland lawsuit transferred to Houston
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (6/15/09)--The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Louisville, Ky., ruled Wednesday that the class action data-breach lawsuits against Heartland Payment Systems will be consolidated and heard in the Southern District Court of Texas in Houston. U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal will hear the case, in which plaintiffs--including credit unions--are seeking to recoup losses from the card payment processor's massive data breach revealed in January. The breach compromised roughly 100 million cards, the largest reported data breach in history, and many credit unions reissued new cards to members whose information was compromised (News Now May 7). Attorneys for the Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland and all but two of the 30 plaintiffs asked for the case to be heard in Texas, according to Bank Info Security June 11). Two plaintiffs, a bank in New Jersey and a bank in Florida, asked that the case be heard in their states. Heartland's information technology staff--who likely would be called as witnesses--are located in Texas (SCMagazine June 11). Attorney Richard Coffman, who represents the Pennsylvania State Employees CU (PSECU), Harrisburg, Pa., and Lone Summit Bank in their suits against Heartland, told Bank Info Security the decision turned around quickly. He noted that Judge Rosenthal has experience with class action lawsuits, is considered fair and even-handed, and moves her docket. "We couldn’t have pulled a better judge for this case," he told the publication. PSECU's suit alleges breach of contract, negligence, equitable indemnification (in which it says Heartland benefited from the $3.4 billion asset credit union canceling and replacing cards for its members), restitution, unjust enrichment and violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Thirty-one separate lawsuits, on behalf of consumers, investors, banks and credit unions, have been filed in the Heartland case. The judicial panel in Kentucky also decided that another data breach case, against RBS WorldPay, would move to Georgia.
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