Equifax Moves to Dismiss Opt-Out Consumer Complaints in Data Breach MDL

The credit reporting company, Equifax, tried to rid itself of claims made by a dozen or so plaintiffs who submitted requests to be excluded from the nationwide consumer settlement over the 2017 data security incident which resulted in the exposure of approximately 147 million people’s personally identifying information. In February 2020, the Department of Justice charged four hackers in connection with the breach.

Wednesday’s motion, filed in the Northern District of Georgia, is a corrected version of a filing submitted on December 10. It said that the plaintiffs’ claims fail to allege facts showing they are entitled to relief. 

In January 2020, the Northern District of Georgia court overseeing the MDL approved the consumer settlement. It is not yet finalized, however, as two individuals objected to the settlement and have a certiorari petition pending before the Supreme Court, the claims website said. Consumers impacted by the breach, meaning they spent time or money fighting identity theft or other fraud that occurred as a result of Equifax’s alleged misconduct, can receive cash payments and free credit monitoring with valid claims.

Now, Equifax argues that the opt-out plaintiffs’ complaints must be dismissed. The filing explains the allegations then asserts why each category of claim is inadequately pleaded. 

Generally, all causes of action fail to meet the federal pleading standard, the motion argues, calling them “unintelligible and insufficient.” Among a half-dozen other reasons, Equifax says that certain individuals’ contract claims do not establish mutual assent or facts to show that any contract was formed between the claimants and Equifax.  

Their negligence claims fail because the plaintiffs have not alleged that Equifax owed them a duty under Georgia law. Too, some plaintiffs also fail to allege proximate cause and, moreover, none of the claimants alleged injuries “cognizable in negligence,” the motion contends. The plaintiffs’ Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) claims fail because they do not allege that Equifax “furnished” a “consumer report” as the statute requires.

The opt-out plaintiffs must respond to Equifax by January 24.

Equifax is represented by King & Spalding LLP.