Three CUs Join Two Banks to Sue Heartland Over Breach Damages
Three credit unions and two banks have joined together to file a class action lawsuit against Heartland Payment Systems to try to recoup some of the card related losses.
The three credit unions that have joined legal fray against the processor are the $123 million Matadors Community Credit Union, Northridge, Calif.; the $1.4 billion GECU, San Antonio; and the $1.2 billion MidFlorida Federal Credit Union, Lakeland, Fla. Also joining the class action complaint were the Amalgamated Bank, New York, and Farmers State Bank, Marcus, Iowa.
The credit unions and banks brought their complaint in Federal District Court in New Jersey.
The suit does not claim any specific damages or seek specific monetary awards but seeks to recover the out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred by financial institutions that have re-issued debit or credit cards to their customers whose account information was compromised, according to Chimicles & Tikellis, the firm representing the financial institutions.
The lawsuit also claims damages on behalf of financial institutions that incur expenses caused by the actual misuse of the information that was compromised in the Heartland data breach. The complaint raises claims for common law negligence, breach of contracts to which plaintiffs and class members were intended third-party beneficiaries, breach of implied contract, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, negligence per se and negligent misrepresentation, the firm added.
The complaint takes particular issue with the "cavalier" attitude the processor treated card data the credit unions said.
"It has been reported, however, that the information that was compromised in the Heartland data breach includes the digital information encoded into the magnetic stripe built in to the backs of credit and debit cards and, in some cases, the name of the cardholder," the complaint read.
Joseph Sauder, a lead attorney on the case, said the complaint had not listed any damages from the institutions because the totals were still being tabulated. He added "I think one of the first things will be for the court to somehow consolidate all these different complaints so it would be premature to estimate what the schedule might be in this case."
Meanwhile, the breach has also hit some Heartland executives. The payments processor announced last week that its CEO, Robert Carr, his wife and one of the company's other executives were being forced to sell some of the company's stock they had placed as security for loans.
Carr and his wife were forced to sell over 692,000 shares of the company's stock to meet obligations under a loan for which the shares were pledged as security, the company said. Heartland's chief sales officer, Sanford Brown, was also expected to have to sell stock for the same reason, the company said.