Kyla Asbury Dec. 12, 2014, 1:17pm

ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) - Lawsuits involving the Home Depot data breach that occurred earlier this year have been consolidated in Atlanta federal court.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the 11 current lawsuits, which were filed in various federal courts, are to be consolidated in the Northern District of Georgia, according to the transfer order filed Dec. 11.

District judges Sarah S. Vance, Marjorie O. Rendell, Ellen Segal Huvelle, Catherine D. Perry, Lewis A. Kaplan and R. David Proctor are the judges on the panel.

"All parties agree that centralization is warranted, but they disagree about the most appropriate transferee district," the transfer states. "In addition to the movants, plaintiffs in [14] actions and potential tag-along actions support centralization in the Northern District of Georgia, as do common defendants Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., and its corporate parent, The Home Depot Inc...."

Plaintiffs in another five actions and tag-along actions suggested centralization in the Middle District of Florida, while the plaintiff in a potential tag-along action pending in the Eastern District of Louisiana suggested that district as the transferee forum.

Several plaintiffs alternatively suggested either the Northern District of Georgia or the Middle District of Florida.

"On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve  common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Northern District of Georgia will serve the convenience of the parties and  witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation," the transfer order states.

"These actions share factual questions arising from a data security breach at stores owned and operated by Home Depot between April and September 2014, that involved the payment card information of, by one estimate, some 56 million credit and debit cards."

All of the actions contain allegations that customers' personal financial information was compromised as a result of this data security breach, according to the order.

"Centralization thus will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary," the transfer order states.

Beginning in April, hackers utilizing malicious software accessed the point-of-sale systems at Home Depot locations throughout the United States and Canada and acquired customers' debit and credit card information, as well as the city, state and ZIP code of the specific location where the card was used.

Home Depot became aware of the breach on Sept. 2 and confirmed the breach six days later.

On Sept. 8, Home Depot announced that its investigation had confirmed that customers’ data was indeed compromised, and victims could include anyone who used a credit or debit card at any of the more than 2,200 Home Depot locations in the United States or Canada since April.

District Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr. will be presiding over the MDL case.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia case number: 1:14-md-02583

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