Vernon Township ordered to pay court costs after suing hapless recipients of employees’ SSN

Remember that ridiculous lawsuit by Vernon Township against individuals to whom it had accidentally released employees’ Social Security numbers?  There’s an update. Jessica Masulli Reyes reports:

The individuals who received the Social Security numbers of 119 Vernon employees were ordered by a judge to sign certification saying that the confidential information was deleted and not disseminated.

But, in turn, state Superior Court Judge Edward Gannon determined on Friday that Vernon, which filed the suit, must pay all of the individuals’ attorney and court costs, while also creating a township corrective action plan to ensure the release of private information does not happen again.

Read more on the New Jersey Herald. Apparently, the township had a brief shining moment of rational thought after their initial intention to sue for invasion of privacy:

Vernon initially accused the individuals and newspaper of tampering with the document to unveil the hidden columns in the computer spreadsheet, but Kelly later said that this was no longer the case and did not include it in a brief field with the court.

All in all, this is still one of the stupidest lawsuits I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a bunch. The township should have just asked the recipients to delete the files from their drives and sign a certificate saying they had done so. Instead, the town jumped to a heavy-handed approach that may have defamed the hapless recipients of the township’s breach. So now in addition to the costs of offering credit monitoring to the 119 employees whose SSN were disclosed, the town also incurred court costs for itself and the defendants.

Just. Plain. Stupid.

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