Baltimore attorney selected to help lead class-action lawsuit over massive Equifax data breach

Baltimore attorney Hassan Murphy has been selected to help lead a class-action lawsuit against Equifax over the credit bureau’s massive data breach last year.

Murphy, of Murphy Falcon Murphy, was selected by a federal judge in Georgia on Monday to serve on a seven-member steering committee for consumer plaintiffs in the case.

“I’m honored to have been selected by Judge Thrash to be in the leadership of this monumental case that effects so many Americans,” Hassan told The Baltimore Sun. “We have committed to working as hard as we can, as we always do, to get justice for the victims of this horrific data breach.”

The breach occurred between May and July last year and exposed the financial information of more than 145 million consumers — nearly half of Americans. The company said in announcing the breach in September that the primary information exposed included “names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers.”

Hundreds of law firms filed complaints in courts all over the country. Murphy filed one such complaint in September on behalf of a Maryland plaintiff whose data was breached, alleging that Equifax failed to ensure the integrity of his and others’ data.

“It is incomprehensible that Equifax, a major credit reporting company, would fail in its obligation to protect the personal and private information of consumers,” Murphy said at the time. “And now a group of cyber thieves have the holy grail of consumer identification — aggregated information on consumers packaged in a neat little bow. The value of this package far exceeds the sum of each individual piece of information and further exacerbates the seriousness of this matter.”

After the cases from across the country were collected in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where Equifax is based, attorneys vied for appointments to the new multidistrict litigation leadership team in oral arguments before Judge Thomas Thrash.

On Monday, Thrash issued an order appointing more than two dozen attorneys to the team, who will now work to compile all the complaints from across the country into a single complaint.

Murphy, who is African American, said he is honored to be appointed to a leadership position in such a large class-action case, in part because it is a legal arena that has suffered in the past from a lack of diversity, “under the stranglehold of a handful of firms.”

“There has been a remarkable lack of participation by women and people of color, and it is rewarding to me that Judge Thrash took that seriously and decided that it was time that there be diversity and all that that brings — divergent viewpoints, different perspectives that add tremendous value to the class and to the case,” Murphy said.

Thrash named three co-lead counsel in the case: Kenneth S. Canfield of Atlanta, Amy E. Keller of Chicago, and Norman E. Siegel of Kansas City.

krector@baltsun.com

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