On April 3, 2019, Earl Enterprises Holdings Inc. (“EEH”), the owner of popular chain restaurants such as Earl of Sandwich, Buca di Beppo and Planet Hollywood, was sued in federal court in the Middle District of Florida by customers who alleged that the company failed to exercise reasonable care in securing and safeguarding their sensitive personal information. EEH had announced that it experienced a year-long data breach affecting customers’ names, credit card numbers and expiration dates and security code numbers.
The complaint was filed by named plaintiffs Saul Hymes and Ilana Harwayne-Gidansky. Plaintiffs allege that approximately 2,150,000 million payment card numbers, belonging to customers of Earl Enterprises restaurants, are currently for sale on the dark web. The complaint cited security blogger Brian Krebs who has said that he believes the stolen payment card numbers were offered for sale from as early as February 20, 2019, on a website called “Joker’s Stash.”
The suit alleges that the defendant’s emphasis on profits allowed the breach to occur. Plaintiffs claim that the event could have been avoided had the defendant adopted technology that would have made transactions more secure. The defendant’s data security procedures were so subpar, according to the complaint, that it took the company months to realize that malware installed by hackers was compromising customer information. The data breach went undetected from May 23, 2018 to March 18, 2019. The defendant publicly announced the breach on March 29, 2019.
The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a class made up of anyone in the United States who made a credit or debit card purchase at any affected EEH restaurant during the period the data breach occurred. The suit brings causes of action for breach of implied contract, negligence, negligence per se, unjust enrichment, breach of confidence and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The case is Hymes et al. v. Earl Enterprises Holdings Inc., Case No. 6:19-cv-00644, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
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