Sony, ex-employees reaches settlement in hacking lawsuit

Sony Pictures Entertainment and a group of ex-employees have reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit over claims that the studio was negligent in securing itself against a hacking attack.

“On September 1, 2015, plaintiffs and SPE reached an agreement in principle to settle all of the claims of the putative class against SPE, subject to final documentation, which will be submitted for the court’s approval in accordance,” said a filing by the plantiffs’ lawyers.

The group of ex-employees had been seeking class certification in their case, and a trial date was set for Feb. 9.

Nine former Sony employees have filed an amended class action lawsuit against Sony Pictures Entertainment, alleging that the studio failed to take adequate safeguards to protect personal information that was exposed in the hacking attack last year.

The plaintiffs claimed that the hacking has left them vulnerable to identity theft, tax fraud and financial theft because their social security numbers and other information has been made “publicly available to anyone with an Internet connection.”

“Following the breach, SPE has focused on its own remediation efforts, not on protecting employees’ sensitive records or minimizing the harm to its employees and their families,” states the amended complaint, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. “Rather, SPE has focused on securing its own intellectual property from pirates and a public relations campaign directed at controlling damage to SPE associated with the release of embarrassing internal emails.”

SPE had challenged the employees’ standing, contending that they failed to allege a current injury or one certainly impending.

But in July, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner allowed several of their claims to proceed. He noted the plaintiffs claim that their information has been used to send threatening emails to employees and their families.

“These allegations alone are sufficient to establish a credible threat of real and immediate harm, or certainly impending injury,” he wrote.

The lawsuit is similar to individual suits filed by the nine ex-employees in December and January, albeit going into additional detail about the breach.

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