ATTORNEYS AT COAST LAW GROUP, 3 OTHER FIRMS FILE CLASS ACTION AGAINST FACEBOOK, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA, STEPHEN BANNON, ALEKSANDR KOGAN
Plaintiffs Allege Defendants Illicitly and Illegally Appropriated Their Data,
Engaged in Improper and Unlawful Conspiracy to Disrupt 2016 Presidential Race
For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, [email protected]
APRIL 5, 2018, Encinitas, CA – Attorneys at Coast Law Group and three other law firms filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California late yesterday against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon and Aleksandr Kogan on behalf of three named plaintiffs who allege their personal data was illegally appropriated and used to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign.
Class action Plaintiffs Jordan O’Hara, Brent Collins and Olivia Johnston are California residents represented in the matter by Coast Law Group lawyers Helen I. Zeldes, Amy C. Johnsgard, Andrew J. Kubik, and Ben Travis of Coast Law Group LLP in Encinitas; Paul Hoffman and Aiden McGlaze of Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP in Los Angeles; Charles J. LaDuca and Michael J. Flannery of Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca LLP in Washington, D.C. and St Louis; and Timothy G. Blood and Thomas J. O’Reardon of Blood Hurst & O’Reardon LLP in San Diego.
“In using Facebook, Jordan, Brent, Olivia and some 87 million other individuals believed the information they disclosed was secure, would be protected, and would not be exploited for illicit purposes,” said Zeldes. “As they – and the rest of the world – now know, Defendants Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Bannon conspired – with Facebook’s help – to do just that, allowing Facebook users’ data to be used to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election. Jordan, Brent and Olivia want to prevent future abuses of this kind because they have been irrevocably harmed by these four defendants’ illegal activities.”
The Complaint details Cambridge Analytica’s improper harvesting of at least 87 million Facebook members’ profiles, and the illegal appropriation of this vast store of data by Cambridge, Bannon, Kogan and others as a means of purposefully destabilizing and adversely influencing the November 2016 election. It also refers to former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, describing the company as “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool,” and the actions of the company and its founder as “an established military methodology –information operations” illegally turned on the U.S. electorate.
UK-based SCL Group is the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, referred to in the Complaint as “Facebook’s Predators.” In addition, the Complaint explains how Global Science Research (GSR) was created by Cambridge University researcher Kogan to harvest and process Facebook data so that it could be matched to Facebook users’ personality traits and U.S. voter rolls. Kogan provided the improperly obtained data to Cambridge Analytica, and Cambridge Analytica used it to design targeted political advertisements for Republican candidates and causes. The Complaint further asserts Bannon was involved in the data acquisition process and had knowledge of its planned, illegal uses. The roles of other Cambridge personnel, including Alexander Nix and American investor Robert Mercer, who bankrolled the illegal operation, are also detailed.
According to the Complaint, as early 2014 efforts to collect Facebook data were part of an ambitious program to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters that were ultimately used to create the anti-establishment messages deployed as part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The Plaintiffs assert claims for relief under the federal Stored Communications Act, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Intrusion Upon Seclusion, Negligence, Negligence Per Se, Breach of Written Contract, California’s Unfair Competition Law and the California Consumer Records Act. They seek damages on behalf of the class, injunctive relief, restitution, disgorgement, statutory penalties, and all costs and expenses, including attorney’s and experts’ fees, declaratory relief and any other relief the Court determines is necessary to provide complete relief to them and the class.
“Facebook’s security practices are negligent, if not actually reckless,” said Tim Blood. “The company knew about its security vulnerabilities for years and made little or no effort to substantively address them. Its indifference contributed to this breach and its actions show no concern about the privacy expectations and concerns of its users, which is why today’s action is both appropriate and essential to prevent other companies and individuals from undertaking similar illegal activities as this nation approaches the June primaries and the November midterm election.”
According to the Complaint all Facebook users have already incurred significant damages – including time, expense, fear and anxiety – in securing their personal information and protecting their identities from further security breaches, as well as suffered a loss of the value of their user information by its illegal disclosure. The proposed nationwide class is defined as “All persons in the U.S. with Facebook accounts whose personal information was obtained by Cambridge Analytica LLC without or in excess of authorization.” A proposed California class is defined as all residents of the State similarly situated.
A jury trial is requested.
About Coast Law Group LLP
Coast Law Group LLP is an award-winning law firm established in 2004. Founded on the principle that business and environmental communities deserve attorneys who are aggressive and professional, while committed to values of integrity and justice, Coast Law Group has received dozens of awards over the years. CLG added consumer protection to its mission last year, launching its class action practice in June 2017 with nationally recognized consumer litigator, Helen Zeldes. CLG measures its success both by the service we provide our clients and the positive impact we have on our community. For more information, see www.coastlawgroup.com.