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Class action lawsuit filed after Hy-Vee data breach

A Pennsylvania law firm says it has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Hy-Vee grocery store chain after a recent data breach.

Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLC announced the filing in a news release posted Tuesday. Law firms in Illinois and Oklahoma are also listed on the lawsuit. The original plaintiffs listed on the suit are a woman from Avon, Illinois, who said her debit card was compromised after using a Hy-Vee gas pump in Galesburg, Illinois, and a man from Columbia whose card was affected by the breach.

Hy-Vee reported the data breach Aug. 14, saying customers who used cards at some points of purchase might have had their information stolen. The company, which operates three grocery stores in Columbia and has locations in Jefferson City and Osage Beach, said transactions at Market Grille locations and at gas pumps in those three cities were affected.

Purchases made inside gas stations were not affected, the company said when it released more information about the breach early this month.

Hy-Vee set up a website with more information about its findings and information about how customers can protect themselves.

Transactions at store checkout lanes, inside convenience stores, at pharmacies, at customer service counters, in alcohol departments, in floral departments, in clinics and in other food service areas were not affected. Online transactions also were unaffected, the company said.

The breaches began in December and continued into the summer, Hy-Vee has reported.

The Pennsylvania law firm in its release attacked Hy-Vee for “choosing … to spread out information about the breach of a series of months and shifting responsibility of dealing with any potential fraud on its customers.”

Ben Johns from Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLC said the law firm is hoping to get more information about the breach and financial compensation for the people it represents.

“Certainly information is important because that empowers people and let’s them know what they should be doing to protect themselves and which card was compromised and things like that, but the other part is, yes, we’re trying to get financial money for people that suffered these injuries and spent time dealing with this and had fraud and so on and so forth,” he said.

The law firm is currently representing two people, including one man from Columbia, but expects more people to join the suit.

Johns said the law firm has worked on cases like this in the past, and it can impact many people quickly.

“Even though these breaches sometimes will only occur for a relatively short period of time, it doesn’t take very long for there to be tremendous volume of card data that goes through these systems and gets into the hands of wrongdoers,” Johns said.

The law firm is searching for answer now from Hy-Vee about the impacts.

“We want to know more about where this data went, who the wrongdoers were, what people should be doing to protect themselves and not have to rely on third party news sources to find basic information like that,” he said.

No hearings have been set in the case. A Hy-Vee spokeswoman said the company does not respond to pending litigation.

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