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Holmes v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al., 08-CV-00205-R (W.D. Ky.; July 12, 2012)

Holmes v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al., 08-CV-00205-R (W.D. Ky.; July 12, 2012)

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Court dismisses data breach claims against Countrywide brought by plaintiffs who opted out of class action.
Court dismisses data breach claims against Countrywide brought by plaintiffs who opted out of class action.

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Published by: Venkat Balasubramani on Jul 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Defendants Countrywide Financial Corporation, Countrywide Bank, FSB, CountrywideHome Loans, Inc., Bank of America Corporation, and Full Spectrum Lending Division(collectively “Countrywide” or “Defendants”) have moved to dismiss the present action (DN52). Plaintiffs Matthew and Danielle Holmes and John and Terra Stiers (collectively“Plaintiffs”) have responded (DN 53) and Defendants have replied (DN 54). This matter is nowripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Defendants’ motion is GRANTED.
The present controversy involves the theft of sensitive personal and financial informationfrom millions of Countrywide’s customers. The theft prompted a series of class-action lawsuitsfollowed by a class-action settlement, over which this Court presided. Plaintiffs were litigantswithin the original framework of the class-action lawsuit but opted out of the settlement.Instead, they continued with their individual action against Countrywide. After a substantialdelay in the proceedings, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that disposed of their class-actionallegations. DN 44. Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) followed, alleging claimsof unjust enrichment, fraud, breach of contract, breach of the covenants of good faith and fair1
Case 5:08-cv-00205-TBR Document 58 Filed 07/12/12 Page 1 of 29 PageID #: 671
dealing, breach of state security notification laws, conspiracy, violations of the New Jersey andKentucky consumer fraud laws, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. SAC, DN 50.Countrywide now moves to dismiss the SAC.The material facts are not in dispute. In August of 2008, an FBI investigation uncovereda scheme, two years in the making, by Countrywide employee Renee L. Rebollo Jr. (“Rebollo”)to download and steal confidential information from its customers. All told, Rebollo removedpersonal data on 2.4 million loan customers from Countrywide’s computer database. Theconfidential information included customers’ dates of birth, social security numbers, bankinginformation, credit history, and employment information. Rebollo passed the data on to knownand unknown third parties in exchange for payments of $70,000.After learning of the security breach, Countrywide sent notification letters to individualswhose information was compromised (“Countrywide Letter”). The Countrywide Lettercontained the following language:We are writing to inform that we recently became aware that a Countrywideemployee (now former) may have sold unauthorized personal information about youto a third party. Based on a joint investigation conducted by Countrywide and lawenforcement authorities, it was determined that the customer information involvedin this incident included your name, address, Social Security number, mortgage loannumber, and various other loan application information.Countrywide Letter, DN 50-5 p. 2. The correspondence offered each recipient two years of freecredit monitoring. Countrywide Letter, DN 50-5. Despite the breadth of Rebollo’s deception,scant evidence exists demonstrating that either he or his compatriots misused the customers’information or engaged in any kind of financial fraud.Matthew and Danielle Holmes (collectively “the Holmes”), residents of New Jersey,applied for and received a home loan and mortgage in October of 2007 through Mortgage Now,2
Case 5:08-cv-00205-TBR Document 58 Filed 07/12/12 Page 2 of 29 PageID #: 672
Inc. Their mortgage was transferred to Countrywide in November of 2007. SAC, DN 50 ¶ 63.In September of 2008, the Holmes received a letter from Beneficial Care of HSBC Auto Finance(“Beneficial Letter”) informing them that a recent credit request for an automobile loan had beendenied. Beneficial Letter, DN 50-4; SAC, DN 50 ¶ 69. The Holmes had not applied for a loanwith HSBC Auto Finance. The next day, the Holmes received the Countrywide Letter informingthem that their personal information had been compromised. In response to these two mailings,the Holmes purchased independent credit monitoring protection at the cost of $14.95 per month.SAC, DN 50 ¶ 83. In the SAC, they represent that the Beneficial Letter proves their confidentialinformation was misappropriated.In December of 2006, John and Terra Stiers (collectively “the Stiers”) purchased a homein Richmond, Kentucky, with a mortgage that was eventually transferred to Countrywide. SAC,DN 50 ¶ 15. Shortly after they received the Countrywide Letter, the Stiers were bombarded withcalls from telemarketers and direct mailings for educational loans and home refinancing. SAC,DN 50 ¶ 16. To curb these unwanted solicitations, the Stiers canceled their telephone service ata cost of $250 to $300. SAC, DN 50 ¶ 15. They also spent substantial time researching this caseand the hazards of identity theft. SAC, DN 50 ¶ 15.In January of 2009, the Holmes filed a putative class action complaint againstCountrywide on their own behalf and those similarly situated. DN 1. Prior to the Holmes’action, similar lawsuits around the country were initiated against Countrywide. On December 2,2008, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) entered an order assigning all casesto this Court for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. On January 9, 2009, the Courtordered the Holmes’ case to be joined with the other MDL cases pending against Countrywide.3
Case 5:08-cv-00205-TBR Document 58 Filed 07/12/12 Page 3 of 29 PageID #: 673

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