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Colonial Pipeline Rejects Responsibility for Hack’s Gas Pump Hit

Sept. 21, 2021, 4:07 PM

Colonial Pipeline Co. isn’t responsible for a ransomware attack’s ripple effects on consumers who saw higher prices at gas pumps, the company argued in a federal court filing.

Colonial doesn’t sell directly to the people who sued over the hack and it doesn’t set the price for the oil it transports, according to its brief filed Sept. 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

In May, a ransomware attack against the pipeline interrupted the U.S. East Coast’s supply of gasoline, driving up prices and setting off shortages at pumping stations.

The proposed class action alleges that the Colonial Pipeline failed to fulfill its duty to gas buyers to protect its infrastructure from Russia-linked cybercriminals. Along with damages, the suit is seeking a court judgment ordering Colonial to boost its cybersecurity.

Colonial argues the case should be dismissed, in part because the consumers’ claims, brought under state law in Georgia, would “circumvent” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority over the pipeline’s operation.

A gas station also has sued Colonial over the hack, seeking to represent thousands of other stations that were impacted.

Lawyers from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP represent Colonial. Lawyers from Evangelista Worley LLC and Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC represent the consumers. U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen is assigned to the case.

The case is Dickerson v. CDPQ Colonial Partners LP, N.D. Ga., No. 1:21-cv-02098, brief filed 9/20/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com

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