Chagrin Falls woman files lawsuit against Equifax in wake of massive data breach


CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Chagrin Falls resident on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Equifax, which announced last week that a security breach exposed 143 million U.S. consumers’ personal information.

Chagrin Falls resident Barbara Torrey filed the lawsuit “individually on behalf of all others similarly situation” in the wake of the massive data breach. A federal judge must determine whether to designate the complaint as a class-action lawsuit.

Equifax, a credit reporting agency based in Atlanta, said U.S. consumer names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers were exposed from May to July. Credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers were also accessed, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio says the breach constituted a violation of state consumer laws and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. It seeks reimbursement for any damages, including the money consumers spent on credit repair and monitoring services in the wake of the data breach.

Cleveland attorneys from the firms Novak LLP and Cohen, Rosenthal and Kramer LLP are representing the plaintiff, the lawsuit says. Attorney Williams Novak of Novak LLC declined to discuss the lawsuit in detail, other than to note the data breach affected millions of consumers.

“There are 143 million people who have been affected by the breach, so it’s not difficult to find someone who’s affected,” Novak said.

Equifax spokespersons did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Equifax’s failure to protect personal information left consumers vulnerable to credit harm and identity theft, the lawsuit says.

“Equifax failed to take adequate and reasonable measures to ensure its data systems were protected against theft, ignored warnings and previous indications that hackers had breached its systems and failed to take actions that could have stopped the breach,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says that Equifax chose not to invest in stronger technological safeguards against data breaches to strengthen its own bottom line.

“Equifax could have and should have substantially increased the amount of money it spent to protect against cyber-attacks but chose not to,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit was filed two days after Equifax backed off an arbitration clause, which the company said prohibited consumers from filing class-action lawsuits. Dozens of class-action lawsuits have been filed across the U.S. against the company in the past two days, according to USA Today.

Equifax created a website where consumers can find out if their personal information was compromised in the data breach. Consumers can also sign up for credit monitoring and identify theft protection.