U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson announced leadership roles in the Target data breach litigation last week, and Morgan & Morgan’s John A. Yanchunis has been appointed as a member of the plaintiffs’ executive committee.
The consolidated class action lawsuits, one group filed on behalf of consumers, another group filed on behalf of banks and credit unions, and a third consisting of shareholder derivative actions, allege that Target failed to adequately protect customers’ personal information after last year’s massive data breach, which potentially exposed 70 million shoppers’ debit and credit card numbers, and resulted in injury to consumers and the financial institutions.
In April, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated more than 100 lawsuits against Target to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in a process known as multidistrict litigation (MDL). Consolidating the cases will help save time and money for all parties involved and eliminate duplication during discovery (the period when attorneys work to collect relevant evidence, such as documents and interviews). More than 80 of the class action suits were filed on behalf of consumers, with 30 class action suits filed by banks and credit unions, and four by shareholders.
“Although all three groups will, to the extent possible, proceed on the same track, the court and the parties recognize that some issues may pertain to only one or fewer than all groups,” Judge Magnuson said in his order, announcing attorneys to take positions as lead and liaison counsel in each group.
As a member of the plaintiffs’ executive committee, Mr. Yanchunis will help coordinate discovery and other matters, and ensure that it is performed efficiently so that there is no overlapping evidence, such as witnesses being deposed twice. Mr. Yanchunis was also appointed as chair to the expert committee and as a co-chair with Michelle Drake, a partner at Nichols Kaster PLLP, to the research and complaint draft committee of the consolidated consumer class cases.
The MDL is currently in the preliminary stages, but Mr. Yanchunis said that he and his team will continue to work to determine why Target’s point-of-sale systems were vulnerable to a data breach and ensure that they are of the “gold standard” in the future.
He and the other attorneys holding leadership roles in the Target MDL will fight to ensure that consumers’ important privacy rights are protected. He added that if the case is not settled and “we go to trial, we will prevail.”