Less than a month after being ripped open by a massive hacking, Sony Pictures has now been slapped by former employees with the first of what could be many class action suits. “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,” says the December 15 complaint by Michael Corona and Christina Mathis.
The 45-page filing (read it here) in federal court in California seeks class action certification for all past and present Sony U.S. employees with California and Virginia subclasses, jury trial and unspecified “appropriate relief, including any actual and statutory damages, restitution and disgorgement.” With personal information, leaked films, executive emails and other corporate entrails coming out in waves since the initial hack on November 24, a lawsuit like this hasn’t been entirely unexpected as questions of the studio’s liability are in play.
The plaintiffs isolated Sony’s blame in the matter of their personal info and that of others who worked at the company – and is partially about the bottom line At its core, the story of ‘what went wrong’ at Sony boils down to two inexcusable problems,” claims the complaint. First that “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; and (2) Sony subsequently failed to timely protect confidential information of its current and former employees from law -breaking hackers.”
Corona worked at Sony from 2004 to 2007 in Culver City while Mathis worked there from 2000 to 2002. Both have seen their personal information divulged in the hacking. In the case of Corona, his wife and daughter have had their information also “compromised in the Data Breach,” as well as the reason he resigned from the company. Mathis says she has heard nothing from Sony about the breach other than a form letter response to her email inquiry about the Data Breach.”
With the FBI involved in the matter, Sony has offered employees now and past a year of AllClear ID protection to help combat issues like identity theft. That hasn’t exactly made everyone feel secure. Numerous former Sony employees have been posting their concerns about their personal information on Facebook and other social media sites since news of the break-in’s vast scope emerged three weeks ago. Some have posted in public areas of Facebook their concerns about what will happen to them and their information, and what Sony will do about it.
One former long-time executive, for instance, shared an official statement from Sony to former employees that promised help with identity protection. He also posted about one private group on Facebook for Sony former employees concerned about the impacts of the break-in, though additional other such private discussion groups are also believed to exist.
Kheshaw Karmand and Matthew Preusch of Keller Rohrback LLP’s Seattle and Santa Barbara offices are representing the plaintiffs in the matter.
Deadline’s David Bloom contributed to this report.