Former Employees Sue Sony over Hacking Scandal

( [email protected] ) Dec 18, 2014 12:42 AM EST
Two employees who used to work at Sony Corp. have filed a lawsuit against their former employer, alleging that the company failed to protect private and confidential information from hackers.

Two employees who used to work at Sony Corp. have filed a lawsuit against their former employer, alleging that the company failed to protect private and confidential information from hackers.

The lawsuit, filed by lawyers representing former Sony employees Michael Corona and Christina Mathis in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday, claimed that the company should have taken proper security measures after being attacked in 2011 and more recently on Dec. 14. According to Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter, both have spent money for identity theft protection after the hack and are suing on behalf of an estimated 15,000 individuals in addition to themselves.

"An epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than to real life, is unfolding in slow motion for Sony's current and former employees," the filed complaint stated. "Their most sensitive data, including over 47,000 Social Security numbers, employment files including salaries, medical information, and anything else that their employer Sony touched, has been leaked to the public, and may even be in the hands of criminals."

According to Philip Caulfield and Kirthana Ramisetti of New York Daily News, Corona worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment from 2004 to 2007, while Mathis worked for Sony Pictures Consumer Products from 2000 and 2002.

The complaint filed on their behalf puts the blame on Sony for what happened, citing "two inexcusable problems."

"Sony failed to secure its computer systems, servers, and databases ('Network'), despite weaknesses that it has known about for years, because Sony made a 'business decision to accept the risk' of losses associated with being hacked," the complaint stated. "Sony subsequently failed to timely protect confidential information of its current and former employees from law-breaking hackers."

The complaint also mentioned that Sony supposedly "failed to secure its computer systems, servers, and databases, despite weaknesses that it has known about for years."

According to New York Daily News, Corona, who lives in Virginia, argued that hackers gained access to his full name, Social Security Number, birthday, former address, salary history, and other personal information. As for Mathis, who lives in California, she claimed that her Social Security number and former address were stolen.

Gardner reported that the plaintiffs, represented by the law firm of Keller Rohrback, are demanding actual and statutory damages and restitution as a result of negligence, violation of health privacy, and failing to follow a California statute requiring notifications of data breaches.

"They haven't estimated the value of the damages, but they are also demanding equitable relief including forcing Sony to provide credit monitoring for at least five years, identity theft insurance, credit restoration service and requiring Sony receive periodic compliance audits by a third party regarding the security of its computer systems," Gardner wrote.

Related: Sony Cancels Theatrical Release of Seth Rogan's 'The Interview' After Terrorist Threat Links to 9/11 

Gardner added that this lawsuit references internal Sony documents exposed in the leak, which is highly unusual in nature.

"The plaintiffs are attempting to show that Sony knew about security weaknesses and made a business decision to accept the risks despite previous data breaches," Gardner wrote.

According to New York Daily News, Susan Dakow and Yvonne Yaconelli, production managers who worked on films such as Spider-Man and Jerry Maguire, have filed a separate class action lawsuit Tuesday against Sony. While they make the same complaints as Corona and Mathis, they also claimed that The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, could have motivated the cyber-attack against the company in the first place, which is alleged to have come from North Korea.

"Various news reports suggest the original script of 'The Interview' introduced a fake villain, but that Sony specifically changed the script to make North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un the film's villain," the lawsuit stated.

New York Daily News thinks that this lawsuit will explore whether the Rogen-Franco comedy "created an unreasonable risk that Plantiffs' and Class Members' PII (personally identifiable information) would be exposed."

Sony has not commented yet on either of the lawsuits filed against them.

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