EXCLUSIVE: Ten months after the studio was ripped apart by a massive hack attack and thousands of employees’ personal information ended up exposed online, Sony Pictures has reached a tentative deal to end the lawsuits stemming from the breach.
“On September 1, 2015, Plaintiffs and SPE reached an agreement in principle to settle all of the claims of the putative class against SPE, subject to final documentation, which will be submitted for the Court’s approval in accordance,” said a filing today from the plaintiffs’ lawyers (read it here). No details of the settlement were made public. A motion from former Sony employees Ella Carline Archibeque, Marcela Bailey, Michael Corona, Joshua Forster, Michael Levine, Christina Mathis, Steven Shapiro and Geoffrey Springer seeking preliminary approval of the agreement will be made by October 19.
A class certification hearing in the disputed legal action is scheduled for September 14; Sony had pushed back hard in filings on August 24 against such certification. The studio claimed the plaintiffs would be hard-pressed to prove any of the information out on the web that was now potentially damaging to them actually came out of the Sony hack of last November. Both sides have now asked the court to push such dates and deadlines for 45 days pending the proposed settlement and its formal approval.
Less than a month after the gutting November 24 hack, Corona and Mathis were the first to hit Sony with lawsuits, on December 15 last year. The North Korean-originated invasion over the studio’s distribution of The Interview pic saw the studio’s security systems broken open, and among executive correspondence and other industry details, the exposure revealed personal information for an estimated 3,000 former and current Sony employees. One of the many reverberations of the deep hack was the exiting of Amy Pascal earlier this year as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chairman of the Motion Picture Group.
With the settlement proposal, it now looks like the anniversary of the hack will see it at least partially becoming a bad memory for Sony and less an open wound.
A battalion of attorneys from several firms have repped the various plaintiffs in the case, with Cari Laufenberg of Seattle’s Keller Rohrback LLP as a de facto leader. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale And Dorr LLP are representing Sony.