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Law firm misconduct alleged in federal hacking-related lawsuit

One core tenet of American law stresses its fundamental fairness, which, given the highly unequal powers and resources that two parties can bring to a judicial dispute, is a flat-out imperative to help obtain an equitable legal outcome.

As one federal claim recently filed in a California court states, "The American system of justice depends upon fair play in an impartial forum," with that evenhandedness being "a central feature of the American way."

That filing alleges that fair play was simply out the window for a high number of workers' compensation claimants in California whose confidential case-related information was being systematically hacked over a lengthy period by a group of insurance company underwriters. The federal complaint states that the companies employed investigators to steal injured parties' private and privileged case information from servers used by law firms representing them in compensation-related cases.

Moreover, the complaint alleges, several attorneys working with a law firm employed by the underwriters knew of and supported the scam.

In fact, the federal filing -- which seeks certification as a class action lawsuit owing to "thousand of individuals" that it claims were injured by the hacking activity -- alleges that the attorneys did much more than merely support the theft of data. The complaint contends that the lawyers "willingly and knowingly participated in the scheme."

That is of course a serious allegation of attorney misconduct and bad-faith behavior.

The plaintiff seeks damages for fraud, invasion of privacy and additional acts of wrongdoing, as well as disgorgement and injunctive relief. The defendants are accused of violating myriad laws addressing privacy protection and computer data access.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Major workers' comp insurers hacked legal files, class claims," Mike Heuer, July 1, 2015

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