Hy-Vee Data Breach Class Deal Gets OK With Reduced Lawyers’ Fees

July 22, 2021, 4:09 PM

A consumer settlement with Hy-Vee Inc. over a credit card data breach at its stores got approved but not until after attorneys’ fees were slashed, as initially the fee request was too high relative to class members’ recovery, according to a federal court in Illinois ruling.

Class counsel will receive $739,000 in costs and fees, rather than the $1.1 million they first requested, Judge Michael M. Mihm said Wednesday for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Potential monetary benefits for the class total about $600,000, he said.

At a fairness hearing, Mihm disagreed with class counsel that Hy-Vee’s $20 million security upgrades should fully count toward the benefit amount because the Midwestern grocery, gas, and restaurant chain had already started making those changes before agreeing to settle.

But he “was satisfied that Counsel provided sufficient information to justify the time spent” for their reduced fee request, he said.

Only one class member objected to the settlement, on the mistaken basis that it didn’t provide credit monitoring, Mihm said. Thirty-four class members opted out, and about 6,000 filed claims.

Residents of six states sued Hy-Vee over a data breach it detected in July 2019. They sought to represent statewide classes of consumers in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa whose payment card data was compromised.

The court allowed most of the consumers’ claims to proceed in an April 2020 ruling.

The settlement provides for a per-consumer cap of $225 for a variety of out-of-pocket expenses and lost time, as well as reimbursement of “extraordinary” expenses up to $5,000 per claimant with proof that the loss couldn’t be reimbursed through another channel.

It covers a variety of bank and credit card fees, telecommunications charges, payday-loan interest, and credit report and credit monitoring costs. It would also reimburse consumers for their time spent replacing credit cards and addressing fraudulent charges.

Plaintiffs’ lead counsel are Barnow & Associates PC and Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP.

Baker & Hostetler LLP and Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen represented Hy-Vee.

The case is Perdue v. Hy-Vee, Inc., C.D. Ill., No. 1:19-cv-01330, 7/21/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martina Barash in Washington at mbarash@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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