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Target Data Breach Saga May be Heading to Mediation

Wednesday, July, 9, 2014

Lawyers for the beleaguered retail giant Target have suggested that the more than 140 lawsuits stemming from the data breach the company experienced at its point-of-sale (POS) credit card equipment last year might be best settled in the mediation process.


Target, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was named in at least 142 lawsuits filed by various entities including banks and individuals across 28 states.  These suits were consolidated in St. Paul, Minnesota district court in front of Judge Paul Magnuson.


Target’s motivation for seeking mediation would be to avoid further bad publicity stemming from the incident, when criminals hacked into Target’s POS system and stole credit and debit-card information from 40 million Target shoppers.  Some of that data was later found being sold online.  Target fired its CEO and announced a major infrastructure review after the incident.


Now that publicity for the theft seems to have quieted down, Target wishes to avoid any high-profile court dramatics that would revive it in the media and the public’s imagination.


The trial is already aggressively scheduled, with discovery and consideration of class-action status scheduled to be determined by 2015 and trials set for March 2016.  Although that may seem very slow to non-lawyers, in large litigations like this, it is a very short timeline.


Target has stated it expects most of the lawsuits filed by individuals to be dismissed, because historically such data-breach lawsuits from individuals claim only ‘prospective’ damages, not real damages.  However, it would still profit from a reasonable settlement even with suits that have no real chance of success.