Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

First data breach case granted standing in Pennsylvania

By Hanna Nakano | Oct 29, 2015

PHILADELPHIA - Standing has been found for the first time in a data breach case in the State of Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found standing in claims of injury as a result of data breach in Enslin v. Coca Cola. This is the first time a federal court in the state has moved a data breach class action beyond the motion to dismiss stage, according to attorney Katie Sluss of Cozen O’Connor.

Sluss, who studied Enslin, told the Pennsylvania Record moving forward, she thinks this case will affect future plaintiffs who file data breach cases.

“Instead of finding any plaintiff who had their data stolen, I think you’re going to start seeing plaintiffs who had actually suffered injuries – had their data stolen and then suffered identity theft,” Sluss said.

Shane Enslin, a former Coca Cola employee, brought a class action case against the company. Enslin claims when 55 laptops were stolen from the company, so too was his personal identifying information.

According to the suit, Enslin suffered direct injuries from the data breach, including identity theft, unauthorized charges on his credit cards, theft from his bank account, the opening of new accounts in his name, and the use of his identity to obtain a job at UPS.

Sluss said the way courts across the country handle these cases are changing. More courts are allowing people with injuries from data breaches to move forward, she said.

“It’s not unsurprising or unexpected,” Sluss told the Record. “We have at least one circuit court that has weighed in on this with the Neiman Marcus case and has allowed it forward and given them standing, so I think at this point it’s certainly not unexpected for them to move forward.”

Other claims in Enslin were dismissed, but in an article about the case, Sluss explored why the data breach claim was granted standing: “The court allowed Enslin’s breach of contract claim to proceed because Enslin fairly alleged the existence of an express and/or implied contract between Coca-Cola and Enslin that required Coca-Cola to protect Enslin’s PII [personal identifying information]”.

As technology continues to advance and become more prevalent, Sluss said the courts will be forced to keep up.

“There’s a lot of new things that are coming and it will be interesting to see how the court deals with all of these different issues,” Sluss told the Record.

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