Sony Hack: How the Studio Will (Likely) Handle All Those Lawsuits

January 14, 2015 – In The News
The Hollywood Reporter

Scott L. Vernick was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter article, “Sony Hack: How the Studio Will (Likely) Handle All Those Lawsuits.” Full text can be found in the January 14, 2015, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Sony Pictures’ legal strategy in the wake of class action lawsuits resulting from the studio’s massive data breach are beginning to come into focus.

While lawsuits over stolen data are not uncommon, the Sony cases are unique in that they involve employee rather than consumer data, including medical records, which are often more sensitive than financial data.

“We're in uncharted territory,” says Scott L. Vernick, a noted privacy attorney.

Sony is likely to attempt to consolidate the separate cases into one or two lawsuits and challenge whether the cases should be heard in a court at all.

Vernick predicts Sony could add a unique defense as well: Employee claims of harm or inconvenience due to a data breach are actually workers’ compensation claims. If the judge agrees, plaintiffs would need to refile in a separate court. “I think it’s a novel and creative argument,” Vernick says.

If the plaintiffs can withstand the studio’s pretrial motions, they’ll be able to certify the class action and begin arguing the factual issues of the case, such as whether Sony had sufficient precautionary measures in place.

Vernick believes the plaintiffs’ case will be heard, noting “I think this will survive.”

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