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Colonial Pipeline Accused of Negligence in Proposed Class Action

May 20, 2021, 3:54 PM

Colonial Pipeline Co. and its owners acted negligently by employing lax cybersecurity standards that left the company vulnerable to a massive ransomware attack, a proposed Georgia federal court class action alleges.

The company breached its duty to employ industry security standards, and that failure translated into system outages that harmed consumers by raising prices at the pump, plaintiff Ramon Dickerson argued in a proposed action filed May 18 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Colonial was paralyzed by a ransomware attack that caused gas shortages and led to price increases in several states. The company paid hackers nearly $5 million in ransom to help restore the country’s largest fuel pipeline.

“As a result of the Defendant’s failure to properly secure the Colonial Pipeline’s critical infrastructure—leaving it subjected to potential ransomware attacks like the one that took place on May 7, 2021—there have been catastrophic effects for consumers and other end-users of gasoline up and down the east coast,” Dickerson alleged.

The company’s data security was “unlawfully deficient” and harmed millions of customers by resulting in gas shortages and higher prices at the pump, Dickerson argued.

Colonial didn’t live up to its obligation and its duty to safeguard its critical infrastructure, he alleged.

Dickerson is seeking a nationwide class and state subclasses where necessary or appropriate.

Causes of Action: Negligence, declaratory judgment.

Relief: Certification of the case as a class action, disgorgement of wrongly retained revenues, damages, attorneys’ fees, relief compelling Colonial Pipeline to use appropriate methods and policies with respect to data and cybersecurity.

Potential Class Size: Unknown.

Response: Colonial Pipeline declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Attorneys: Evangelista Worley LLC and Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC represent Dickerson.

The case is Dickerson v. CDPQ Colonial Partners L.P., N.D. Ga., No. 1:21-cv-2098, complaint 5/18/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Holland in Washington at jholland@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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