Lawyers take aim at Sony hack, may miss on payout

Thu May 12, 2011 5:17pm GMT

* At least 25 lawsuits filed over PlayStation hack, theft

* Data breach class actions don't yield big lawyer fees

By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO, May 12 (Reuters) - The recent hacker attack at Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) and other corporate data breaches are attracting more class-action lawyers eager to score a payday, though huge monetary settlements may be elusive.

At least 25 lawsuits have been filed against Sony in U.S. federal courts over the theft of user data from the PlayStation game network, according to Westlaw, a Thomson Reuters Corp legal database.

The lawsuits accuse Sony of negligence and breach of contract for allowing the personal data of more than 100 million online video game users to be compromised and stolen.

The challenge for plaintiffs' lawyers in security breach cases is not proving liability on the part of companies, but establishing damages, according to attorneys involved in this kind of litigation.

Sony has been criticized for not telling customers quickly enough last month that their personal data was compromised. The consumer electronics company said it is possible that whoever broke into Sony's system made off with about 12.3 million credit card numbers.

"Had Sony properly secured its database through known and available encryption methods, even if a hacker were able to enter the network, he would be limited in his ability to inflict harm," one lawsuit says.   Continued...

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