Class-action lawsuit filed against MCCCD due to security breach

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A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Maricopa County Community College District alleging the district has not done enough for the victim's of last year's security breach.

The complaint, filed Monday, alleges the district had known about vulnerabilities in its information technology systems for years, but had "negligently, recklessly and/or knowingly failed to take appropriate steps to remediate those vulnerabilities."

"In broad brush strokes, we are asking for compensation for the victims, (and) protection for the victims," said Mark Fuller, an attorney for Gallagher & Kennedy, the firm which filed the complaint.

Fuller described the information exposed as much more than simple credit card numbers.

"It's a gift-wrapped pack of information," he said.

"It's dates of birth, addresses, names, social security numbers and a wide variety of other information, some of which has not been disclosed by the district. We still don't know the full extent of (the breach)," he said.

One of the plaintiffs named in the complaint is Gary Vigneault. Vigneault, a retired Phoenix police officer, both attended and was an adjunct professor at MCCCD. He said his information has been used by identity thieves to open credit cards, and even file a tax return under his name.

"I think it's a fear of the unknown," he said, referring to the stress he's been under while dealing with the breach.

"It's changed a lot of things. You're just waiting for the next thing to fall. What's going to happen to me next?" he continued.

If a judge certifies the complaint, the district could be forced to pay $2,500 per person. That would equal more than $6 billion in pay outs, though that is unlikely as a final settlement.

Maricopa County Community Colleges refused repeated requests from CBS 5 News for an on-camera interview. Rather, spokesperson Tom Gariepy released this written statement:

"We don't comment on the merits of a lawsuit that has been filed except to say that we are prepared to defend the case vigorously."

To read the full class-action complaint, click here.

Gallagher & Kennedy attorneys plan to be back in the courtroom on Monday, urging a Superior Court judge to move forward with their application to get MCCCD to produce public records in conjunction with their data breach case.

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