Law School Case Brief
Resnick v. AvMed, Inc. - 693 F.3d 1317 (11th Cir. 2012)
Under Florida law, generally, to prove that a data breach caused identity theft, the pleadings must include allegations of a nexus between the two instances beyond allegations of time and sequence.
AvMed, Inc. was a corporation that delivers health care services. It has a corporate office in Florida, and in December 2009, two laptop computers were stolen from that office. The laptops contained AvMed customers’ sensitive information, and when they were stolen, the information became readily accessible. Consequently, plaintiffs’ information was used by an unknown third party. Thereafter, plaintiffs filed the present action contending that they were victims of identity theft, thereby suffering monetary damages. According to the plaintiffs, their injury was fairly traceable to AvMed’s failures to secure their information. The District Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. According to the District Court, the complaint failed to state a cognizable injury. Plaintiffs appealed.
Did the plaintiffs' complaint fail to state a cognizable injury?
The Court held that the complaint specifically alleged that plaintiffs suffered financial injury, and their allegations were sufficient to fairly trace the plaintiffs' injury to AvMed’s failures. The Court averred that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged causation because they alleged a nexus between the data breach and the identity theft that included more than a coincidence of time and sequence since they alleged that the sensitive information on the stolen laptops was the same sensitive information used to steal their identity. Since the plaintiffs suffered financial injury, and monetary loss was cognizable under Florida law for damages in contract, quasi-contract, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, the Court held that plaintiffs have alleged a cognizable injury.
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