Class action lawsuit filed against Maricopa County Community Colleges District

A law firm that had filed notices of claim against MCCCD over its 2013 breach that exposed the information of almost 2.5 million current and former students, employees, and vendors, has now filed a class action lawsuit.

On Monday, April 28, 2014, Gallagher & Kennedy filed a class action lawsuit in the Superior Court of Arizona against the Maricopa County Community College District for having exposed and compromised the private, confidential personal information of an estimated 2.5 million current and former students, applicants, parents, employees, and others.

You can download a copy of the complaint here (pdf). The named plaintiffs all became victims of ID theft at some point after the 2013 breach and while it may be difficult to prove that it was from this breach, there’s more than enough in this complaint for it to survive any motion for dismissal based on standing or lack of actual injury.

Meanwhile, several sources tell that MCCCD is continuing to stonewall all attempts to obtain public records related to the 2011 breach and the 2013 breach by attempting to hide behind claims that because personnel matters are involved, the records are exempt from disclosure. Hopefully, the courts will straighten them out on that. Particularly distressing, employees who claim to have been railroaded and falsely accused of responsibility for the 2013 breach have been denied access to reports that they need to defend themselves against disciplinary action by MCCCD.

If the taxpayers of Arizona aren’t the richest in the country, they should be up in arms over the money these breaches have cost taxpayers and they should be demanding full transparency and accountability by MCCCD and its governing board. Instead, they are getting what appears to be a massive attempt to cover up what may be serious negligence in responding to recommendations by both an outside forensics firm and MCCCD’s own IT personnel following the 2011 breach. Although MCCCD has attempted to point the finger at some employees, several employees have pointed out that they actually filed a grievance when MCCCD failed to heed their recommendations urging better security of servers housing personally identifiable information. MCCCD’s IT security deficiencies were also noted in state audits in 2011 and 2012, and yet were still unremediated by the time of the 2013 breach.

Because there has been so much finger-pointing and so little access to documents that could prove what was done – or not done – and when, continues to call for a full and transparent investigation of the two breaches by independent parties.

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