Robbie Hargett Feb. 1, 2016, 2:40pm


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - A Florida woman is suing the Hyatt hotel chain, alleging it was negligent in a data breach.

Traci Taylor of Pinellas County, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit Jan. 18 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Hyatt Hotels Corporation, alleging breach of implied contract, negligence, and violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

According to the complaint, beginning in July 2015, hackers utilizing malware accessed Hyatt computer systems and stole copies of Hyatt customers' private information, including payment card data.  The suit says on Dec. 15, 2015, Hyatt announced it had discovered the data breach and stated it had since taken steps to strengthen its security systems.  

The lawsuit, however, states Hyatt could and should have prevented this data breach by taking adequate and reasonable measures to ensure its data systems were protected, as the malicious software used in the breach was likely a variant of "BlackPOS," the same strain that hackers used in last year's data breaches of other hotel chains.  

The suit alleges Taylor was told by a financial institution in January 2016, following her stay at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort in Florida, that two unauthorized withdrawals of $45,200 each had been transferred from her account.

The suit states Hyatt acknowledged twice in news releases that it did not adopt appropriate safeguards until it was too late.

Taylor and others in the class seek equitable relief, restitution and disgorgement, actual and compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs of the suit, together to exceed $5 million. They are represented by attorney Steven W. Teppler of Abbott Law Group in Jacksonville, Florida, and by attorneys John A. Yanchunis, Marcio W. Valladares, and Patrick A. Barthle II of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group in Tampa.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Case number 1:16-CV-00702

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