December 10, 2018

December 07, 2018

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Supermarket Held Vicariously Liable in UK’s First Data Leak Class Action

UK supermarket chain Morrisons has been held vicariously liable for the acts of a malicious employee in the UK’s first data leak class action. The issue began in 2014, when a disgruntled Morrison’s internal IT auditor posted to a public file-sharing website the payroll data of nearly 100,000 employees (including names, addresses, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and bank details). The employee was found criminally liable in 2015 and jailed for eight years. A class action of 5,500 employees filed claims against Morrisons alleging breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Although Morrisons acted swiftly and responsibly after the leak, and was found not to be primarily liable, the court of appeals has nonetheless now affirmed the lower court ruling that Morrisons is vicariously liable for the unlawful acts of its employee carried out in the course of his employment.

Putting it Into Practice: Though sound policies and practices can reduce companies’ risk, choosing the right employees and carefully restricting access to sensitive data are also important.

Copyright © 2018, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

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About this Author

Shanna Pearce, Sheppard Mullin, San Diego, litigation, class action, intellectual property, IP, copyrights, false advertising, commercial litigation, lanham act, unfair competition
Associate

Ms. Pearce represents businesses in the areas of intellectual property and commercial litigation, from trademark and copyright matters to consumer class actions. She has represented Fortune 500 companies in complex actions involving allegations of copyright violation, breach of contract, fraud, and unfair business practices. She has also defended retailers and financial institutions in class actions alleging violations of statute and federal laws relating to false advertising, unfair competition, pricing practices, and lending disclosures. Ms. Pearce’s litigation...

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