Kyla Asbury Jun. 30, 2014, 7:14pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - A class action lawsuit has been filed against P.F. Changs after customers claim it failed to protect their data.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. failed to take adequate measures to protect its customers' credit and debit card data from theft and disclosed the data breach on June 12, plaintiffs say.

John Lewert claims while P.F. Changs alleged it only found out about the data breach days before it informed customers, he and other class members believe the breach likely began in September and may have affected nearly seven million credit and debit card accounts, according to a complaint filed June 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

"P.F. Chang's security failures enabled hackers to steal financial data from within P.F. Chang's systems and...subsequently make unauthorized purchases on customers' credit cards and otherwise put class members' financial information at serious and ongoing risk," the complaint states.

The hackers continue to use the information they obtained as a result of P.F. Chang's inadequate security to exploit and injure Class members across the United States, according to the suit.

Lewert claims the security breach was caused and enabled by P.F. Chang's known "violation of its obligations to abide by best practices and industry standards in protecting customers' personal information."

"P.F. Chang's failed to comply with security standards and allowed their customers' financial information to be compromised, all in an effort to save money by cutting corners on security measures that could have prevented or mitigated the security breach that occurred," the complaint states.

P.F. Chang's has also failed to disclose the extent of the security breach and notify its affected customers in a timely manner, according to the suit.

Lewert, individually and on behalf of class members, asserts claims for breach of implied contract, and violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Lewert claims he made purchases at a P.F. Chang's restaurant in Northbrook, Ill., on April 3 and used a debit card to make his purchase.

As a result, Lewer entered into an implied contract with P.F. Chang's for the adequate protection of his debit card information, and had his sensitive financial information exposed as a result of P.F. Chang's inadequate security, according to the suit.

"Identity thieves use stolen personal information for a variety of crimes, including credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud and bank/finance fraud," the complaint states.

P.F. Chang's customers were injured by the data breach because they suffered monetary losses associated with unauthorized bank account withdrawals and the costs associated with identity theft and the prevention of identity theft, according to the suit.

Lewert is seeking class certification and compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is represented by Joseph J. Siprut, Gregg M. Barbakoff and Gregory W. Jones of Siprut PC.

The case has been assigned to District Judge John W. Darrah.

Other companies are facing recently filed data breach lawsuits. In January, Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc. were accused of failing to take reasonable precautions to safeguard their customers' credit and debit card data.

In December, lawsuits were filed against Target following a major data breach that occurred during the Christmas-shopping period last year. In April, the class action lawsuits were consolidated in Minnesota federal court by the Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois case number: 1:14-cv-04787

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