EXCLUSIVE: If you thought the major fallout from the hacking of Sony Pictures by North Korea late last year and the attempted asphyxiating of The Interview was over, the federal courts have something to tell you. Earlier this week, all of the plaintiffs in the seven class action lawsuits filed against the studio over the massive leaking of personal information such as Social Security numbers and alleged inadequate cyber protection have asked Judge R. Gary Klausne to consolidate their cases. “Consolidating the cases will be the most efficient and effective way of litigating the claims on behalf of the proposed class,” say the plaintiffs in the January 12 motion for one big Sony Data Breach Litigation case (read it here).
And Sony is cool with that – to a degree.
“While SPE does not oppose Plaintiffs’ assertion that these cases ‘involve a common question of law or fact’ for purposes of consolidation, SPE disputes that any of these actions can be prosecuted on a class basis and will oppose any motion Plaintiffs may bring thereunder,” said the studio’s Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr lawyers in a filing on Monday (read it here).
Melding all seven proposed class actions into one serves the purpose of streamlining what still would be a complicated action potentially involving up to 47,000 past and present Sony employees and contractors who found their info out on the Internet after the November 24 hack. From Sony’s POV, however, it also means it requires just one fell swoop to see the whole thing go away if it can get the case dismissed – which, of course, the studio is aiming to do.
In the more immediate future, a hearing on the matter is now scheduled for February 9 in front of Judge Klausne in downtown L.A. With no pushback from Sony over the motion from Michael Corona and Christina Mathis, Joshua Forster and Ella Carline Archibeque, Michael Levine and Felix Lionel, Marcela Bailey, and Steven Shapiro plus the very recently filed cases of Lawon Exum and Anastasio Garcia Rodriguez, it is pretty much a given that their requested order (read it here) will be given the green light. The next step is they then file a consolidated amended complaint by about February 23. To that end, SPE has asked to have the previous February 9 deadline for a response to the Corona and Mathis complaint extended in anticipation of the forthcoming consolidated filing. On December 15, Corona and Mathis were the first ex-Sony employees to file a lawsuit over the data penetration of the studio. Most of the others followed fairly quickly afterward.
If everything goes as planned, Matthew J. Preusch and Lynn Lincoln Sarko of Santa Barbara firm Keller Rohrback, Michael W. Sobol of San Fran firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, and Daniel C. Girard of the Bay Area’s Girard Gibbs would serve as interim co-lead class counsel on the case. Keller would be the liaison counsel for all plaintiffs.
Sony Pictures Entertainment is represented David C. Marcus and William F. Lee of LA’s Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale And Dorr.