March 6, 2023. U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin granted final approval of a $1.75 million settlement in a data breach class action regarding Aeries School Information System which stored almost 100,000 San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) students’ and parents’ information.
The settlement includes nonrevisionary compensation of $1.75 million payable to all individuals affected by the data breach. According to the terms of the agreement, class members could submit claims for up to $1,000 for “ordinary losses” or up to $10,000 for “extraordinary losses” due to the data breach. The software company will also offer class members 12 months of credit monitoring, valued at $70-$120 per member. Additionally, Aeries will enhance its cybersecurity controls and practices.
The plaintiffs alleged that Aeries did not timely or adequately disclose the data breach to students and parents. Unknown actors gained access to Aeries’ servers around November 4, 2019. Plaintiffs allege that Aeries did not inform their school district customers about the breach until the end of April 2020, and then the relevant school districts took another two weeks to inform students and parents. Neither the software company nor the schools disclosed what categories of information were potentially compromised during the data breach. Plaintiffs alleged Aeries failed to safeguard its customers’ information in accordance with industry standards, exposing class members to “significant risk of identity theft, financial fraud, and other identity-related fraud into the indefinite future.”
Named plaintiff Melinda Tomes will receive a $2,500 service award; her children were students in the SDUHSD during the data breach. The original plaintiff in the putative class action, Anurag Gupta and his minor children, D.G. and V.G., settled individual claims against Aeries for $1,000 to Mr. Gupta and $1,500 + $210 each to D.G. and V.G., with the smaller amount to cover the cost of enrolling in an identity monitoring product. Mr. Gupta’s children attended the ABC Unified School District when the data breach occurred.
Plaintiffs were represented by Partner Hassan Zavareei and Associate Spencer Hughes of Tycko & Zavareei LLP, supported by paralegal Aaron Mc.Reynolds; Partner Daniel L. Warshaw of Pearson, Simon & Warshaw, LLP, and Partner Kristen Lake Cardoso of Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Gilbert.
The settlement serves as an important reminder of how important it is for organizations handling sensitive personal information, such as student records or financial documents, to take appropriate steps to protect their users’ data from cybercriminals and other malicious actors who could use it for nefarious purposes.
The case is Anurag Gupta et al. v. Aeries Software Inc., case no.: 8:20-cv-00995 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.