Sony To Pay Out $3.5M To Lawyers To Settle Hacking Class Action Suit

Just less than a year after the hacked studio saw digital reams of private information, corporate emails and more exposed, Sony Pictures Entertainment has put a price tag on the cost to end the resulting lawsuits. That price is around $8 million, court documents filed Monday reveal.

And a big chunk of that is going to the lawyers.

“SPE will pay any attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses awarded by the Court, not to exceed $3,490,000, separately from the relief for the Settlement Class Members, and thus the attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses will not reduce the relief for the Settlement Class,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyers in a memorandum of points (read it here) filed October 19.

Sony’s security systems and internal files were torn open on November 24 last year with everything from executive emails, budgets, development slates and personal information on an estimated 3,000 former The Interview release Sonyand current Sony employees exposed. Studio and federal officials ultimately put the blame on a North Korean-originated hack steaming from the studio’s distribution of The Interview, which was pulled, then put online and back in movie housesThe first lawsuits over the hack were filed on December 15 last year, beginning a continuous fight between the plaintiffs and the studio – including Sony trying to get the actions tossed out of court. Now that’s almost all over, if federal Judge R. Gary Klausner grants approval to the deal on the table and no significant objections come from the notified class members.

Over a month and a half after Deadline exclusively revealed that a deal had been reached in the legal action from former Sony employees, the rest of the settlement breaks down to $2.5 million to “Settlement Class Members who experience unreimbursed losses from identity theft or misuse as a direct result of the SPE Cyberattack.” That portion will be maxed out at $10,000 per individual. Also, the initial plaintiffs who instigated the class action will receive “service awards” up to $3,000 “to compensate them for their commitment and effort on behalf of the Settlement Class.”

Then there is a “$2 million non-reversionary fund” to pay back class members for money they’ve had to pay out in the last year protecting themselves from the fallout from the hack. Even though Sony at one point disputed such consequences, Michael Corona, Christina Mathis and other plaintiffs detailed back in July that ID theft and unauthorized credit card charges were occurring due to their info being all over the Internet. While still admitting no wrongdoing or liability on its part in the hack or inadequate digital security, Sony is now making good on part of the cost of fixing it. “Settlement Class Members who submit valid claims with documentation will be eligible to recover up to $1,000,” said yesterday’s filing.

Picking up on moves it made in the early days after the hack, the studio will also provide former employees with ID protection via AllClear up until December 31, 2017, to help monitor further violations of their data. That comes with $1 million ID theft insurance, among other elements.

If all goes as planned in the approval process, this could all be wrapped up by year’s end. A hearing is set for November 16 to get preliminary approval underway.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case and the subsequent certified class are from several firms, with Cari Laufenberg of Seattle’s Keller Rohrback LLP taking the lead. The firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale And Dorr LLP has been repping Sony in the matter.

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