Class Action Suit Against Sony Mortally Wounded

After last year’s hilariously bungled handling of the Playstation 3 hack, it should shock anyone that Sony was slapped with a class action lawsuit. That suit, filed in January, advanced claims that the company was negligent, not only in protecting customer data but in how the handled such a massive breach. The suit specifically claimed that Sony was aware, or should have been, of potential vulnerabilities, and failed to do anything that could prevent them from being exploited. That ‘should have been’ part might have been a hint of the grounds on which the case is based, because unfortunately for those of you hoping to see Sony humbled, a crippling blow was dealt to the case this week by U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia.

Judge Battaglia dismissed several claims, among them negligence, and bailment and violations of California consumer protection statutes. Further, he said, Sony didn’t misrepresent security on its services, because the PSN EULA contains “clear admonitory language that Sony’s security was not ‘perfect,’” therefore “no reasonable consumer could have been deceived.” Worse for the plaintiffs, he said that “none of the named plaintiffs subscribed to premium PSN services, and thus received the PSN services free of cost,” making them ineligible to claim any compensation that might hypothetically be due other users.

Most importantly, the judge noted that “plaintiffs freely admit, plaintiffs’ personal information was stolen as a result of a criminal intrusion of Sony’s Network. Plaintiffs do not allege that Sony was in any way involved with the Data Breach.” This seems a pretty clear demolition of the class action suit; plaintiffs were given the option to an amended claim, but as the bulk of their allegations have been dismissed, it’s likely this puts an end to Sony’s legal headache. This one, anyway.

This isn’t to suggest that Sony didn’t behave in the most obtuse, obfuscatory, disingenuous manner possible during the breach, notably failing to admit the problem for weeks. But all-but-lying to their customers about a problem after it happened doesn’t make them complicit in the problem itself. And I kind of hate myself for having to write that. Hopefully, some of the actions taken on a state to state basis in the aftermath will end up having teeth.

Via Game Politics.

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2 Comments on Class Action Suit Against Sony Mortally Wounded

R.J.

On October 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

It’s not easy to prove negligence, in a legal sense. Even if somebody bungled a situation, it isn’t necessarily negligent. One of the biggest things that hurts this suit and potential future suits is that it wasn’t the credit card data that was stolen. Plus, as noted here, the plaintiffs in this suit were all using the basic free service, so they weren’t out anything monetarily, and even if they had PS+ accounts, Sony extended all those accounts by a month, so again the monetary damage is mitigated. I’ll agree that Sony handled this poorly and I was just as mad as anyone else, but it will be very hard to show that they did anything legally wrong.

Axetwin

On October 23, 2012 at 10:44 pm

@ RJ – People DID have their credit card information stolen. Sony stored all player information in a single non-encrypted file on a server with a (at the time) 5 year old firewall. If that doesnt say negligent, then I dont know what does.