A class action lawsuit has recently been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against Wawa Inc., by consumers who contend that the retail superstore chain did not do enough to stop a data loss issue from occurring between March 5, 2021 and Dec. 12, 2021. Plaintiffs’ attorney Elizabeththeless claim that defendant Wawa did not have an appropriate data security plan in place. Moreover, plaintiff’s attorney contends that Wawa did not take reasonable steps to protect its customers’ personal information. According to the complaint, Wawa failed to implement a data security policy, did not provide data encryption, failed to respond quickly to security risks, did not provide sufficient safeguards against hackers, and did not train its employees about the importance of data encryption.
This Class Action Lawsuit name is based on the recent hack which resulted in credit card numbers of many of Wawa’s US shoppers being sold on the cyber criminal internet. According to plaintiffs attorney, this hack violates both federal and state law. In answer to the complaint, Wawa has filed a motion to dismiss on grounds of qualified immunity. Specifically, the company has claimed that plaintiffs lack an adequate cause to sue them under the federal False Claims Act and that plaintiffs’ claims are legally barred under federal district court law.
In light of the recent breach in the computer system at one of Wawa’s stores in Pennsylvania, Wawa has also filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against unidentified third-party individuals. In a related action, Wawa seeks admission into a class action lawsuit in the state courts of Pennsylvania and Maryland. According to Wawa’s attorney, the company believes it will be able to recover damages for the breach of contract, mis-sold credit card purchases and the like.
As noted above, a motion to dismiss can only be granted in certain circumstances. To do so, the plaintiff must demonstrate that there is a likelihood of disputing the claim. In this instance, plaintiffs have not provided any evidence that they would be able to successfully contest the liability in this case. However, as we move further along in this article, we will look at whether or not the breach of contract claim can be pursued in federal court. That question will be answered in subsequent articles.
In a related matter, it should also be noted that in this case Wawa is also a defendant in a lawsuit in which one of its franchisees is challenging the legality of a massive data breach that occurred at the store. In that lawsuit, the plaintiff is seeking damages on a class-action basis. At present, the company has filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit. We will examine that issue as well in another upcoming article.
In sum, Wawa does not dispute the fact that it has liability in a suit over a data breach at one of its stores. The company also says that it regrets any loss suffered by any customer as a result of the data breach. It also says that all liability to date has been resolved. The parties are currently in the discovery phase of the litigation. Discovery is when the attorneys for both sides gather information from either party and pass it on to the other side for examination and trial. Both sides need to do their research, collect evidence and find a solution to this type of problem.