Victims of Identity Theft in Michigan Score Major Victory Against H&R Block in Court Ruling
Detroit, MI, March 11, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion last week allowing victims of identity theft to pursue claims for emotional and economic damages against H&R Block for its negligent handling of their private information in a case that could have far-reaching implications.
According to Peter Macuga, of Macuga, Liddle & Dubin, P.C, the firm handling the case, the ruling opens the door for victims of identity theft in Michigan to pursue their legal remedies in court against any entity that is entrusted with safeguarding private information and does so in a negligent manner. Prior to last week’s ruling, it was unclear if the Plaintiffs’ negligent safeguarding of information and negligent hiring/supervision claims could be maintained absent a physical injury. The 6th Circuit definitely ruled that the claim could proceed absent physical injury.
The suit arose after several individuals discovered that an H&R Block employee had filed tax returns on their behalf, without their consent, in order to steal their tax refunds. An investigation revealed that H&R Block gave its tax preparers unfettered access to clients’ personal information and that it did so without conducting any background checks on its prepares whatsoever.
A simple background check would have revealed that the H&R Block tax preparer who allegedly stole the Plaintiffs’ information in this case had multiple convictions for identity theft and criminal computer use, even though she stated on her employment application that she had no prior convictions.
H&R Block argued that the Plaintiffs’ claims could not proceed absent a physical injury and the trial court agreed, dismissing their case. The 6th Circuit’s ruling, however, reverses the trial court and allows the Plaintiffs to pursue their claims. After reviewing state case law on the subject, the federal court concluded that Michigan courts would find that H&R "owed a duty of care to safeguard the plaintiffs' confidential identifying information in this instance because of the special relationship between taxpayer and tax preparer."
“This ruling goes to great lengths to protect the rights of Michigan’s residents,” said Macuga. “Any entity that fails to safeguard an individual’s private information may be held accountable in a Michigan courtroom. “
Residents who are interested in learning more about their rights or who have been the victims of identity theft can call Peter Macuga at (800) 536-0045 or view the firm’s website at www.mldclassaction.com
Macuga, Liddle & Dubin, P.C. is one of the premier class action firms in Michigan. The firm specializes in complex consumer class actions and cases involving flooding, environmental contamination and governmental liability.