Dieffenbach v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., No. 17-2408 (7th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Barnes & Noble discovered that its PIN pads, used to verify payment information, had been compromised. The hackers acquired customers’ names, card numbers and expiration dates, and PINs. Some customers temporarily lost the use of their funds while waiting for banks to reverse unauthorized charges; some spent money on credit-monitoring services; some lost the value of their time devoted to acquiring new account numbers and notifying businesses of these changes. Many people use credit or debit cards to pay bills automatically; every time the account number changes, they must notify merchants. Plaintiffs sought damages from Barnes & Noble. Jurisdiction was based on the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), because the proposed class contains at least 100 members, the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and minimal diversity of citizenship exists. The district court dismissed the complaint, ruling that it did not adequately plead damages. The Seventh Circuit vacated. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(c) provides that the prevailing party receives the relief to which it is entitled, whether or not the pleadings have mentioned that relief. While it is not clear that the company is liable, dismissal was inappropriate. Under the federal rules, all this complaint needed to do was allege generally that plaintiffs have been injured.