California T-Mobile Data Breach Claimant Argues that Case Belongs in State Court

A litigant who filed suit against T-Mobile Inc. in the Superior Court of San Francisco filed a motion for remand on Monday, arguing that the case must proceed in state court instead of with others consolidated in multidistrict litigation in Kansas City, Mo. The suit concerns T-Mobile’s August 2021 data breach that exposed more than 50 million customers’ personal information.

After news of the breach surfaced, complaints against T-Mobile poured in from around the country. In early December, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation shifted the lawsuits to the Western District of Missouri for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

The California plaintiff also filed suit in August 2021 and amended in October, asserting that T-Mobile was the target of a data breach causing the plaintiff’s personally identifiable information to be subject to unauthorized access, theft, or disclosure. In November, T-Mobile removed the case to federal court, arguing, “more than 100 class members, diversity of citizenship, and $5 million amount in controversy.” The case was then shunted to the MDL proceeding before Judge Brian C. Wimes.

This week’s motion argues that remand is warranted because the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the dispute brought under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a law that allows for statutory damages in the absence of actual damages.

The filing says that the CCPA claim is the litigant’s sole cause of action and that his complaint seeks statutory damages and injunctive relief only. The plaintiff further contends that he has not alleged a claim for actual damages or other “concrete” injury as required for constitutional standing. 

“[A]llegations of increased risk of harm alone are insufficient to satisfy Article III standing,” the plaintiff contends, pointing to the fact that his complaint only takes issue with the leak of his personal information, not harm flowing from its misappropriation. By contrast, California does not have a standing requirement similar to Article III, the motion points out in support of its bid for remand.

The plaintiff is represented by Wynne Law Firm and Righetti Glugoski P.C.