Heartland Update: Judge's Ruling AwaitedAt Issue: Whether Charges Against Acquiring Banks Should be Dismissed
At issue is whether this case will move forward against Heartland Payment Systems and its two acquiring banks.
In January, five financial institutions filed a class action suit alleging that two acquiring banks, Heartland Bank and Key Bank, should be included as defendants and share responsibility for damages caused by the Heartland Payment Systems data breach, which impacted an estimated 130 million credit and debit cards.
Lone Star National Bank, PBC Credit Union, O Bee Credit Union, Seaboard Federal Credit Union and Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union filed the class action complaint in the U.S. Southern District Court in Houston, TX in January. Heartland Bank is based in St. Louis, MO, and Key Bank is based in Cleveland, OH.
The acquiring banks' class action suit was consolidated into the class action suit brought against Heartland Payment Systems in March. The acquiring banks' lawyers subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the suit, says Richard Coffman, one of the lawyers representing the financial institutions.
The five banks that are suing the acquiring banks then filed their response to the motions for dismissal, citing the acquiring banks' "failure to monitor, audit, oversee and confirm the propriety, adequacy and effectiveness of Heartland's Payment Card processing system safeguards."
The acquiring banks further responded with subsequent motions in early June, petitioning the court to excuse the banks as defendants, claiming that the U.S. District court in Texas had no jurisdiction over them.
Coffman says that since the June filings, the two sides await Judge Rosenthal's ruling on all of the motions. Her decision is expected to come down later this summer.
In April, Judge Rosenthal gave preliminary approval to a proposed settlement of the consumer class action suit brought against Heartland. The proposed settlement would create a $4 million pool to pay consumers and settle the case. The judge has yet to set a date later for the final hearing on the settlement.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Bob Carr, the CEO of Heartland Payment Systems, spoke in an exclusive interview about the breach and his response to it. "I just couldn't believe it happened to us, of all companies," says Carr. "We were so focused on security at all times."