- The Washington Times
Friday, November 27, 2015

Sony Pictures Entertainment employees affected by last year’s high-profile hack may soon be eligible to collect from an $8 million settlement.

U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner gave the green light to a proposed settlement on Nov. 20 that would resolve claims brought by Sony staffers in the wake of the colossal cyberattack that allowed hackers to steal and share a trove of sensitive files, including employee records, confidential emails and unreleased movies from the Hollywood firm’s computer networks late last year.

Ruling for the Central District of California, Judge Klausner said that the settlement reached back in September between the studio and affected parties “appears to be fair and reasonable on its face.” The deal is expected to be formally approved at a March 16 hearing.

Under the terms of the settlement, Sony will reimburse current and former employees hurt in the hack up to $10,000 each for identity theft losses, credit-fraud protection services and legal fees.

Roughly 435,000 individuals will be able to ask for compensation from a $2 million cash fund to cover personal costs related to the hack, and another $2.5 million from Sony will be spent towards identity protection services through AllClear ID for the next two years.

Attorneys will reap the bulk of the award, however, on account of being allocated $3.5 million in legal fees, costs and other expenses.

Sony Pictures ended up on the receiving end of several class action lawsuits after hackers calling themselves “Guardians of Peace” penetrated the corporation’s networks late last year and eventually dumped a trove of stolen data on the web, including personally identifiable information pertaining to current and former employees at the time.

Those suits were later consolidated into the single claim preliminarily approved by Judge Klausner last week, but Sony isn’t in the clear just yet. On Tuesday, former Sony executive Amy Heller sued the studio for defamation, negligence and invasion of privacy stemming from the 2014 hack.

Ms. Heller claims her post-Sony job prospects have been hindered as a result of the information dumped online by the hackers, the likes of which include internal correspondence accusing her of stealing an ergonomic computer mouse valued at $90.

“Prospective employers know and see from Ms. Heller’s resume that she previously worked at Sony and, naturally, they inquire into or otherwise search to see if she was affected by the ‘Sony hack.’ And they naturally will not hire someone who was accused of theft from her last position,” her attorneys wrote in this week’s complaint.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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