Plaintiffs Allege Target Has Been Concealing Information
Handling the fallout from Target’s 2013 data breach—where tens of millions of people had personal and financial information stolen by hackers—has been anything but simple for the Minneapolis-based retailer as it faces another hurdle in the cleanup process.
Eleven law firms representing financial institutions and card issuers are claiming Target is blanketing all of its court filings under “confidential or “highly confidential” status, according to a motion issued last Friday. Some of these documents stem from Target’s recent settlement attempt with MasterCard International Inc., which failed due to a lack of card-issuing banks signing off on the deal. By designating all of their documents as “confidential,” Target is allegedly making it more difficult to create the basis for the plaintiffs’ class action lawsuit as every document is inaccessible.
Co-lead plaintiffs Charles Zimmerman and Karl Cambronne said in a statement that, “we will continue working to hold Target accountable for the significant losses financial institutions suffered, including for the costs of reissuing compromised cards and fraud losses that occurred as a result of the data breach.” Zimmerman and Cambronne believe Target has “over-designated what information should be considered confidential.”
Target is being accused of not following the law, which requires a “compelling” reason to justify confidential status of its court filings. Instead, the plaintiffs say they are being forced to declassify Target’s filings on a document-by-document basis, whereas it is actually Target’s burden to prove whether its court filings are within the scope of confidentiality.
The counsel behind this most recent lawsuit claims they were unable to locate a single document produced by Target that has not been given a “confidential” classification. Any court filing given a confidential status is not filed within the Court’s electronic system, which means clerks and parties involved have to “take extraordinary steps” to uncover important information.
Plaintiffs are asserting that Target “cannot demonstrate—nor has it even attempted to—that the information in the Class Certification Documents concerns ‘trade secrets or other proprietary information, the disclosure of which would likely cause harm.’” Moreover, they believe the sensitive information Target is trying to hide would reveal “Target’s many cybersecurity blunders and shortcomings,” which “may be embarrassing” for Target to disclose.
A Target spokeswoman declined to comment, noting that the litigation is still pending. An estimate for the damages the plaintiffs are pursuing has not been determined.