Sony Hacking Suit Settlement Gets Preliminary Approval

Sony Pictures Hack Cyber Security in
DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AP PHOTO

A federal judge gave preliminary approval to a settlement reached by Sony Pictures Entertainment and ex-employees who sued over last year’s massive cyber attack.

U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner wrote that the settlement agreement “appears to be fair and reasonable on its face.” Girard Gibbs, Keller Rohrback and Lieff Cabraser were appointed as counsel for the settlement class.

The settlement, reached in September, includes additional years of identity protection services, a $2 million fund to compensate for unreimbursed expenses and up to $2.5 million for losses from ID theft.

Klausner also granted a motion for class certification. The class includes all current and former SPE corporate and production employees as of Nov. 24, 2014 — the day of the cyber attack. It also includes those who were not current or former employees of the studio or its subsidiaries, yet whose private information was disclosed on the Internet as a result of the hack.

A final approval hearing has been scheduled for March 16.

Klausner also said that attorneys’ fees would be determined upon noticed motion by the parties. The settlement agreement provides for the class counsel to receive $3.5 million in attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses. The counsel also can apply for “service awards” of up to $3,000 for each plaintiff.

Ten former Sony employees filed class action lawsuits in December and January, in cases that were eventually consolidated. In September, the studio and the ex-employees informed the court that they had reached an agreement.

The settlement benefits include:

ID Theft Protection: SPE will extend identity protection services through AllClearID for an additional two years, through Dec. 31, 2017. The service provides identity theft monitoring, fraud detection and other services, as well as insurance coverage of $1 million. Those who already enrolled last year, when Sony first offered the protection, will be automatically extended another two years. Attorneys for the ex-employees say that the additional years of service represent “millions of dollars in value.”

Cash Payments: SPE will establish a $2 million fund to reimburse members of the class for expenses they incurred protecting themselves from identity theft. This includes purchasing their own credit monitoring protection, insurance and obtaining credit reports. Members of the settlement class will be able to recover up to $1,000 for claims without documentation and for lost time exclusively.

Loss Reimbursement: SPE will pay up to $10,000 to each individual, and up to $2.5 million, for losses from identity theft as a result of the cyber attack. This would supplement the $1 million in insurance from AllClear Pro to cover losses not covered by that insurance protection.

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