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Boca Raton's Stuart Davidson Takes Lead Role in Marriott Data Breach Class Action

Stuart A. Davidson, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Stuart A. Davidson, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Boca Raton attorney Stuart Davidson has been named to the plaintiffs steering committee for financial institutions suing Marriott Inc. over its giant data breach.

The Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd partner is a veteran of breach class actions, serving on the executive committee in the Yahoo case that settled for $117.5 million and the team leading plaintiffs in more than 40 cases alleging security flaws in Intel Corp.’s microprocessor chips.

U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm in Greenbelt, Maryland, appointed the leadership team after a hearing Monday. A consumer class will be led by 14 lawyers, and others are in charge of the banking, shareholder and derivative shareholder groups.

Davidson said by email Tuesday that he was grateful for the appointment. He is on the banking steering committee and will be the coordinating discovery counsel for the financial institution track to coordinate discovery with the other plaintiffs groups.

"I am looking forward to getting this case to trial as swiftly as possible so that our clients and class members can obtain justice for the harm Marriott caused them,” he said.

Financial institutions claim they were harmed in a variety of ways, Davidson said. They had to cancel or reissue credit and debit cards affected by the breach, close affected accounts, issue refunds or credits for the cost of unauthorized transactions blamed on the breach and respond to a higher volume of cardholder complaints, confusion and concern.

Rather than accepting proposed attorney slates to lead the plaintiffs case in the multidistrict litigation, Grimm used a mix-and-match approach when assembling the teams, picking and choosing attorneys from more than 30 applications submitted earlier this month.

"The court’s job is obviously to look out for the best interests of the class members," Davidson said. In this case, Grimm cherry-picked the attorneys.

"Sometimes individual lawyers are put together in a way that the court feels is complimentary," the attorney said. "Luckily, nearly all of the lawyers often competing for a leadership appointment in MDLs in general, and data breach cases in particular, have worked very well with the other applicants in other cases, so no matter who the court selects, the plaintiffs’ leadership is sure to be comprised of lawyers with exceptional talent and impeccable credentials."

More than 80 lawsuits were filed over the breach announced last November by Marriott International Inc. The company initially said the personal data of 500 million guests at its Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide properties was lost but later narrowed the count to fewer than 383 million.

Three veteran data breach lawyers were named co-lead counsel for the consumer class: Andrew Friedman, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Washington; Amy Keller of Chicago’s DiCello Levit; and James Pizzirusso, a partner at Hausfeld in Washington.

Both Pizzirusso and Friedman were on the steering committees in the data breach cases against Equifax and Home Depot. Keller was co-lead counsel in Equifax, and Friedman was co-lead counsel in the Anthem data breach case that settled for $115 million.

Grimm also appointed Labaton Sucharow in New York to lead the shareholder class actions and attorneys from The Brown Law Firm in Oyster Bay, New York, New York’s Gainey McKenna & Egleston and Maryland’s Thomas & Libowitz to lead the derivative shareholder cases.