The modern “Information Age” has been defined by rapidly increasing interconnectivity and dependence on the internet by consumers and businesses alike. One side effect of these technological advances has been the increasing frequency of cyberattacks and data breaches perpetrated by sophisticated cyber criminals using ever-evolving methods of infiltration. And, as can be expected, along with the increase in data breaches over the past few decades, we have seen the rise of data breach litigation, and in particular, consumer class action litigation against the companies who have been victimized by those data breaches. The Fourth Circuit has seen several high-profile data breach class actions. Such class actions often face difficult uphill battles in proving the necessary elements for class certification, particularly when it comes to defining a theory of harm that can be proven by common evidence across the class. Last month, Judge Gibney of the Richmond Division of the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed one such data breach class action case for a more basic problem: the named plaintiffs could not demonstrate they had suffered any concrete injury sufficient to establish Article III standing at all, let alone damages that could be proven classwide. Holmes v. Elephant Ins. Co., No. 3:22cv487, 2023 WL 4183380 (E.D. Va. June 26, 2023).
In Wood v. Omni Financial of Nevada, Inc., the plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging violations of the Military Lending Act (MLA). Specifically, the plaintiffs, two active duty service members who had entered into multiple installment loans with the defendant, alleged that the defendant violated the MLA by unlawfully: 1) extending loans with interest rates that exceeded the military annual percentage rate of interest (MAPR); 2) extending loans that rolled over prior loans; 3) requiring plaintiffs to establish an allotment to repay the loan as a precondition to receiving funding; and 4) requiring plaintiffs to provide a security interest in their bank account as a condition for receiving the loans. The court disagreed with the plaintiffs’ assertions and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.