The Sawaya Law Firm has been appointed as Nationwide Lead Counsel! A nationwide lawsuit has been filed alleging misconduct by Sprouts Farmers Market, for voluntarily leaking data that is claimed to endanger it’s 2015 employees. See all court docs, here.
For the latest update, scroll to the bottom of the page.
March 14, 2016 – The payroll department at Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. fell prey to a “phishing” scam, in which it voluntarily released the 2015 W-2 Wage and Tax Forms of up to 30,000 or more of its employees that worked for Sprouts in 2015.
As a result of the data breach, unknown third parties now possess the personal information of these employees, including their Social Security Numbers, full names, addresses and wage tax statements. This data breach is affecting Sprouts employees nationwide – one of whom now serves as the lead representative plaintiff in a nationwide federal lawsuit in which Sawaya Law Firm attorneys David Miller and Adam Harrison are seeking class action certification from the Colorado federal district court. The allegations contained in the lawsuit are summarized below:
In answer to the data breach, a form letter was mailed out to all affected employees from Sprouts Headquarters, it described the breach an offered the employees a year’s coverage from a credit monitoring and reporting firm.
As a direct result of Sprout’s disclosure of employee W-2’s, the plaintiff’s SSN number was stolen, and already has been used by an unknown party, to claim the Plaintiff’s tax refund.
Plaintiff alleges in her lawsuit that Sprouts had a duty as an employer to guard and protect the private, highly sensitive, confidential personal information of the plaintiffs, and that as a business Sprouts had a duty to take reasonable measures to secure the Plaintiff’s private information that was entrusted to it.
The plaintiff claims that Sprouts not only failed to safeguard and prevent the theft of this personal information from its computers or network, but voluntarily handed it over to a third party or parties upon their mere electronically delivered email request, where the scammer pretended to be an authorized Sprouts representative.
“Exposure of this sensitive employee information can lead to life-long problems,” says David Miller, Wage and Hour attorney at the Sawaya Law Firm. “It seems that Sprouts voluntarily disclosed this information, made little or no effort to confirm the veracity of the request, and failed to prevent significant damage to its employees and their families,” said Mr. Miller, the lead plaintiff’s lawyer.
UPDATE – June 29, 2016
We have been able to move this case to the Arizona Federal District Court to centralize the litigation. We have additionally asked the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation in Washington, D.C., to consolidate all cases with ours in Arizona for all pretrial proceedings. We will know whether the national federal court will grant our motion soon after we argue our position to that court most likely in September, 2016. If you have been affected by this data breach, please get in touch with use as soon as possible and make sure you make all reasonable efforts to protect your credit and your personal identifying information along the lines we have previously suggested! Read a copy of our motion to the Judicial
UPDATE – August 3, 2016
Here’s an update from our last post. Since the case was moved to Arizona Federal District Court, we filed an amended complaint to reflect additional causes of action we believe accurately reflect the harms this data breach has caused the employees and former employees of Sprouts. The amended complaint seeks relief under other causes of action not in the original complaint. Last week, the court stayed all proceedings in this case while the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation in Washington, D.C. considers whether to join all related actions into one action in Arizona. Even though the case is stayed it is not too late to join in the lawsuit. If you would like more information about the case please fill out the questionnaire and one of our attorneys will get back with you. Read a copy of the Amended Complaint here.
UPDATE – August 10, 2016
NEW Video from FOX31 about Sprouts Data Breach
UPDATE – September 9, 2016
On September 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C., the Multidistrict Litigation Panel of the federal courts will hold oral argument on our Motion to Transfer Case For Coordinated Proceedings (in the Arizona federal district court). To read a copy of the short motion click this link. . To read the longer memorandum brief in support of that motion click here. Shortly thereafter, on October 7, 2016, Arizona Federal District Court Judge Douglas L. Rayes has ordered counsel in the case to participate in a telephonic status conference which will address further proceedings in the underlying case.
UPDATE – October 13, 2016
On September 29, 2016, we argued our motion to centralize all pending federal court litigation against Sprouts on its data breach in the federal district court of Arizona in Phoenix where we had our case docketed. On October 11, 2016, the court granted our motion and ordered all other federal cases concerning the data breach to be transferred and joined in with ours in the Arizona federal district court for all pretrial purposes. We are in the process of working with the court and other counsel to arrange for a schedule on how the cases will now be handled. As soon as a schedule is set by the court and we can give you more information we will provide another update. To read a copy of the court’s Order of October 11th click here. Expect to hear from us within the next few weeks as this case moves quickly along!
UPDATE – November 10, 2016
The Arizona federal district court has set a case management conference for counsel in the federal courthouse in Phoenix, AZ. It will start at 10 o’clock, a.m., on November 22, 2016. All of plaintiffs’ counsel in the four pending cases against Sprouts involving the March 2016 data breach and the wrongful disclosure of employees’ W2 forms have agreed that the Sawaya & Miller Law Firm and its Managing Litigation Partner, David H. Miller, will be the Lead Counsel in this centralized collection of cases. To read a copy of the Court’s Order setting this hearing and instructing the parties on the issues to be addressed click here. To read a copy of the Plaintiffs’ Response to that Order click here. Soon after the hearing we will be posting a copy of the pretrial case management order that will be issued by the court. It will fill you in on the timing and substance of the matters that next will be addressed in the litigation.
UPDATE – February 20, 2017
On January 6, 2017, we filed the plaintiffs Amended Master Complaint in the Federal District Court of Arizona. In 84 pages this document sets out all of the claims made by the plaintiffs in the multiple pending data breach cases consolidated in our case against Sprouts because of its March 2016 wrongful dissemination of 2015 workers’ W2s. A copy of the lengthy document is attached here.
At the beginning of February the Supreme Court issued an order delaying oral arguments on three cases related to our case against Sprouts. Those cases are Lewis v. Epic Systems Corp., Sutherland v. Ernst & Young LLP and Murphy Oil USA v. NLRB. Those cases have been reset for argument until either the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018. Those cases all deal with the issue of the legality of mandatory class action waivers. Some or all Sprouts employees were forced to sign such waivers when working for the company.
Mandatory class action waivers, if enforceable—and whether or not voluntarily agreed to by the workers—prohibit employees from pursuing claims against their employers that are on a class or collective basis. In other words, each employee’s recourse would be through individual arbitration proceedings and not through the courts via class group actions. That is one reason why it is all the more important for as many Sprouts workers as possible to become involved in this action. To do that fill out and return the form attached HERE.
The court in Arizona has held that Sprouts may file its motion to compel individual arbitration on or before March 6, 2016. See Order attached here. We expect Sprouts to do that and we are ready for that filing.
Update – March 22, 2017
In early January, we filed the Amended Master Complaint on behalf of all potential class members across the country. A copy of that lengthy document can be downloaded here. The Arizona Federal District Court has entered 2 Case Management Orders governing the pretrial process. They can be downloaded hereand here. The timing deadlines set out in both of those orders were later modified but the main points set out in those documents remains controlling. Case Management Order No. 1 lays out the overall approach that will control the case. It is that document that gives the broadest description of the anticipated course of the litigation. Most recently Sprouts has asked the Court to delay all matters relating to the case—an approach arguing that the case should be “stayed”—in other words “put on hold” until the United States Supreme Court decides a series of cases now pending before it that Sprouts argues might allow that court to strike or enforce arbitration agreements which Sprouts says are similar to the ones Sprouts employees were made to sign. A copy of Sprouts’ motion is attached here. We have objected to that approach and by March 27th will be filing a brief explaining why that is not the correct way to handle this case.
Update – May 31, 2017
On May 17, 2017, Judge Rayes, the Arizona federal district court judge in charge of this case, heard our oral argument in Phoenix on the motion to stay proceedings in this case until the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in 3 cases now-pending before it. Those cases, known as the “Murphy Oil Cases” will most probably decide the issue of whether our case may proceed as a class action where all Sprouts employees whose W-2 data was breached can be handled in one class action case, or whether each of the individuals affected will have to bring their own independent proceeding against Sprouts before an arbitrator in a private/non-court setting.
On May 24, 2017, the court issued its order delaying the case until the Supreme Court decides the Murphy Oil Cases. A copy of that recent order is available here. To short-circuit Sprouts’ attempt to manipulate this action to its own benefit it is all the more important that each Sprouts employee affected by the data breach sign a consent form to allow us to argue for your damages. Sitting on the side line and hoping that the Supreme Court decides the Murphy Oil Cases in favor of the employees is only hurting your ability to gain a more timely remedy for this very serious identity theft. We urge you to sign a consent form and add your name to those who have banded together to fight for their rights. You may sign such a consent form here.
Update – September 20, 2017
On October 2, 2017, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in 3 cases that will play a large role in our case against Sprouts. The decision in these cases that have been working their way up to the Court for years will decide whether our class action will continue or whether each Sprouts worker will have to bring an individual arbitration case against Sprouts. The smartest thing for Sprouts workers to do is to jump on this issue now and join the lawsuit by clicking on our consent form at the link at the top of the page. That way regardless of which way the Court rules you will be represented by the same counsel without any charge for attorney’s fees. Also, if you sign up and consent, you’ll receive special individualized updates as they occur. Take care Sprouts workers (and take action NOW to organize by joining the lawsuit!).
Update – October 2nd, 2017
On October 2nd the Supreme Court heard the cases that will determine whether our lawsuit will go forward as a class action including all Sprouts 2015 workers or whether individual workers will have to each seek their own relief. The nine justices are strongly divided and it was clear that the decision will be a close one. If anyone suggests that they know what the decision will be they are imagining things. We expect a decision sometime during the first quarter of 2018. The good news is that if you join the lawsuit by filing your signed consent with us then the outcome of those cases will not threaten your rights. You will be able to protect yourself through our current case without having any obligation to pay any attorney’s fees, regardless of the decision from the Supreme Court. Please be sure to sign the consent and send it back to us as soon as possible. Time is running out and your data privacy has been breached. It is just a matter of time before your identity is further compromised. Make Sprouts take the responsibility it should for breaching your security and safety. Contact us with any questions you might have, but send in your consent to protect yourself.
Update – March 30, 2018
As you know if you have read this far, we are awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the cases argued to it at the beginning of October, 2017. The Court’s opinion in those cases will decide whether we can proceed against Sprouts as a class action or whether we will have to file individually for each Sprouts employee on his or her own. The fact is that regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, if you were subject to the data breach your private information is circulating on the Dark Web and is not going to go away. The bottom line is that you need to sign the Consent form and Legal Service Agreement and send it in now. You will not be charged any attorney’s fee by our firm, whether we represent you as a class member via Consent Form or in an individual claim against Sprouts via Legal Service Agreement. But you need to protect yourself. It is the only responsible thing for you to do for yourself and for your family.
To fill you in on the timing of the expected decisions . . . the Supreme Court stops hearing oral argument on cases before it in April of each year. While it can announce decisions at any time, it finishes up publishing its decisions in May and June. What that means for our case is that within the next 90 days or so we are going to find out how our case against Sprouts will go forward—either as a class action or as individual proceedings. We will keep you updated, but don’t wait any longer to send in your signed Consent and Legal Service Agreement. Click here for a copy of both.
Update – May 21, 2018
Today is a sad day for hard-working Americans. On a 5-4 decision written by newly appointed justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court ignored 70 years of laws written to protect workers and insure their right to join together in class action lawsuits challenging their employers’ blatant violation of their rights. Instead each now must file separately. To read this sickening decision click this link: Here The plaintiff class in our case will now be disbanded by the Arizona federal district court and each person will be sent to separate arbitration.
Think about the outrageousness of this decision! Here where Sprouts has destroyed the privacy rights of each and every 2015 worker–which totals to over 33,000 individuals–that means that over 33,000 individual actions will have to be brought to obtain justice.
While well over a hundred Sprouts workers already have retained us individually to represent them that means that unless all such 33,000 plus workers retain their own attorneys their privacy rights will have been devastated by Sprouts and they will have no remedy whatsoever when they discover for example that loans have been taken out falsely in their names, their social security numbers and tax refunds have been stolen, their bank accounts raided, or that false accounts have been charged against them.
There is only one immediate thing that you can do if you are affected by Sprouts unlawfully having giving away to hackers your 2015 W-2 form … and that is to immediately hire counsel to bring suit against Sprouts, as our individually represented clients already have done. We are now going to file individual arbitration claims on behalf of each one of them, taking the initial responsibility to pay in advance the filing charges and costs of arbitration and to only charge a percentage of what we recover for each individual so that no one will have to bear the expenses of the proceeding. Click here to review our legal services agreement so you can join those who will be fighting Sprouts in arbitration: LSA Agreement.
As a former or current employee of Sprouts you should be angry. You should be outraged. And most of all you should be committed to working with us to obtain justice against Sprouts. Contact us now. We have been appointed by the Arizona federal district court to be the lead attorneys in this litigation—and now we will become the lead counsel in all the many thousands of arbitrations we will file against Sprouts to make them pay what is owed to each and every affected employee who hires us: LSA Agreement.