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Home Depot lawsuits put on separate consumer, financial institution tracks

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The federal judge overseeing litigation in connection with The Home Depot Inc. data breach has set up separate consumer and financial institution litigation tracks.

In an order issued last week that followed a case management conference, Chief Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. of U.S. District Court in Atlanta said, “While many of the legal issues and much of the discovery are common to the claims of both, the cases present significant, distinct factual and legal issues. Accordingly, to manage the litigation most efficiently, the court hereby creates separate tracks for the consumer and financial institution cases.”

The judge also says in the order issued Friday that “except where it is most cost-effective and efficient to do otherwise,” the court intends that the two tracks proceed on the same discovery schedule and that counsel on the separate tracks coordinate “as closely as possible to eliminate duplication,” although pleadings and motions will proceed separately

According to a Nov. 24 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, at least 44 lawsuits have been filed against the company by customers, payment card-issuing banks and others in connection with the breach, which put an estimated 56 million payment cards’ information at risk.

The Atlanta-based retailer reported in November in its third-quarter earnings report that it had incurred pretax net expenses of $28 million related to the data breach and anticipates the total cost will be at least $34 million for the year, although it still did not know how much the breach would ultimately cost.

Litigation is also proceeding separately in the Target Corp. data breach.