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Target tries to pin breach costs on credit card issuers in latest legal move

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Credit card issuers themselves are responsible for any losses they sustained as a result of the Target Corp. breach, says the retailer, in a court filing Thursday in response to litigation filed by the financial institutions.

“By unnecessarily and unreasonably cancelling and reissuing their customers' payment cards in response to the intrusion, or taking or failing to take other actions relative to the payment cards they issued, plaintiffs … negligently caused or contributed to any injury” they allegedly suffered, says the Minneapolis-based retailer in court appears filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In litigation filed last year, the financial institutions, which are seeking class action status, claimed they had suffered “substantial out-of-pocket losses” stemming from Target's 2013 massive data breach, in which 100 million customers' payment card numbers were exposed.

In a Dec. 2 ruling, Judge Paul A. Magnuson refused to dismiss the financial institution's litigation and said plaintiffs can proceed with charges, including negligence, against the retailer.

Litigation filed by consumers in connection with the data breach has also been filed separately in Judge Magnuson's court.

In the court papers filed Thursday in the financial institutions case, Target denied their charges, and listed “affirmative defenses” in the case, including that any damages suffered by the financial institutions “were caused by the acts of others for whose conduct Target was not responsible.”

The Target response also charges that the financial institutions “negligently failed to implement certain policies or procedures,” including the use of fraud-detection software, “all of which would have either eliminated or substantially reduced the risk” of a data breach.

It also states that, “by its nature,” willingly participating in the U.S. payment card system “cannot provide absolute security for payment cards,” among other defenses.

The filing asks that the court dismiss the financial institutions' complaint and award Target costs and attorneys' fees.