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Attack on Target will bring flood of business litigation cases

Between the banks and Target, there are now a lot of eyes looking askance at each other. The recent debacle involving the theft of information from 40 million credit and debit cards will be a bell weather event for creating future standards. However, as always it's the little guy, the unlucky consumer struggling already with scarce cash during an expensive holiday season, who will typically bear the brunt of the personal suffering. The emergence of business litigation in California and other states between the banks and Target will give little relief to affected consumers.

Some of the customers have already suffered the trauma of identity theft and flirted with financial disaster in what for them is now a sorry holiday season. Many more are waiting in trepidation to know whether or not they'll join the victims. The tragic mess caused banks like giant JP Morgan Chase to open on Sunday and issue new cards for consumers.

Typically, when identity theft occurs the banks don't make their customers incur the losses. Generally, banks are expected to reject charges against accounts where suspicious clues are evident. To recoup their losses, the banks may be expected to sue Target for its negligence. With such a large number of customers to protect, it seems fair to say that Target should have been more closely monitoring its databases from outside intrusion.

Just based on the sheer size of its duty, the company should have been more vigilant in implementing an impregnable security defense. Although there may be elements of breach of contract in this commercial litigation, boiled down to its bare essence, this matter concerns the business tort of negligence. The likely tortfeasor appears to be Target.

In the past, similar thefts led to business litigation in California and elsewhere by the banks against the retailer. The frightening fact is that these cards and numbers are now likely for sale on black market web pages known for selling stolen accounts. For some people, it's difficult to imagine that such evil-doing is occurring, but indeed it is big business for an international black market that injures millions daily, callously and without losing a beat.

Source: NBC News, Banks may take their pound of flesh from Target over breach, Lawrence Delevingne, Dec. 23, 2013

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