14 Lawyers Appointed to Lead Suits Over Marriott's Data Breach

A woman with a stroller walking in front of a Marriott property.
A woman with a stroller walking in front of a Marriott property.

A federal judge in Maryland has appointed 14 lawyers to lead class actions brought by consumers over Marriott Inc.’s data breach last year.

Judge Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland appointed the leadership team, as well as others to lead cases against Marriott brought by financial institutions and shareholders, following a hearing on Monday. Among those appointed are three veteran data breach lawyers as co-lead counsel: Andrew Friedman, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Washington, D.C.; Amy Keller of Chicago’s DiCello Levitt; and James Pizzirusso, a partner at Hausfeld in Washington, D.C.

Both Pizzirusso and Friedman were on the plaintiffs’ steering committee in the data breach cases against Equifax and Home Depot. Keller was co-lead counsel in Equifax, and Friedman was co-lead counsel in the Anthem data breach case that settled for $115 million.

“We’re honored to be appointed co-lead class counsel on this important case,” Friedman wrote in an emailed statement. “Starwood, and later, Marriott took more than four years to discover the breach, allowing the unprecedented theft of hundreds of millions of their customers’ most sensitive data. We look forward to helping the victims of this data breach hold Marriott accountable for its actions.”

More than 80 lawsuits were filed over the breach, which Marriott International Inc. announced Nov. 30 and that compromised the personal data of 500 million guests of its Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide properties (Marriott has since lowered that figure to fewer than 383 million).

More than 30 lawyers submitted applications to spearhead the cases, including four that suggested their own proposed leadership teams. Those teams were smaller than what Grimm appointed in his final order, which borrowed from all four proposed slates.

In a Feb. 13 order, Grimm had appointed Pizzirusso and Friedman as interim co-lead counsel, along with Megan Jones, a San Francisco partner at Hausfeld. Friedman and Pizzirusso had submitted a proposed leadership team that would include the two of them, plus Keller, as co-lead counsel. Jones would be one of five members of a plaintiffs’ steering committee.

The slate, they wrote, “reflects the diversity of the bar and the plaintiff class—from the standpoint of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, experience and geographical location.”

Grimm appointed Jones to a plaintiffs’ steering committee that included eight other attorneys from the other competing leadership team proposals. He also selected another member of the interim co-lead counsel’s proposed steering committee, James Ulwick of Baltimore’s Kramon & Graham, to be co-liaison counsel.

But Grimm turned to other slates to complete the rest of the leadership slots. The other co-liaison counsel will be Veronica Nannis of Maryland’s Joseph Greenwald & Laake, who was part of a proposed team of five lawyers. Grimm appointed two others from that group, Timothy Maloney, also of Joseph Greenwald & Laake, and Daniel Robinson of Robinson Calcagnie in Newport Beach, California, to the steering committee.

That group had promised not to seek more than 28 percent of any potential settlement in attorney fees.

The rest of the steering committee that Grimm appointed came from the proposed co-leads two other groups. Those were Jason Lichtman, a New York partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, and Eve-Lynn Rapp of Edelson in San Francisco, from one proposed leadership team, and two others from another one, Norman Siegel of Stueve Siegel Hanson in Kansas City, who was co-lead counsel of the Equifax and Home Depot cases, and Ariana Tadler of New York’s Milberg Tadler Phillips Grossman.

Grimm also appointed MaryBeth Gibson of The Finley Firm in Atlanta, and Gary Lynch of Carlson Lynch in Pittsburgh, two lawyers who submitted individual applications, to the steering committee.

In addition to consumer suits, the order named a separate leadership team for lawsuits brought by financial institutions over the breach. Grimm appointed co-lead counsel Steven Silverman of Maryland’s Silverman Thompson Slutkin White, and Arthur Murray of Murray Law Firm in New Orleans, who served in leadership positions in the cases against Equifax and Home Depot. On the plaintiffs’ steering committee were Stuart Davidson, a partner in Boca Raton, Florida, at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd; Brian Gudmundson of Minneapolis-based Zimmerman Reed; and Charles Van Horn of Berman Fink Van Horn in Atlanta. Gudmundson and Van Horn had leadership roles in cases against Equifax and Home Depot, and Davidson was on the executive committee in the Yahoo case that settled for $117.5 million.

The group, which represents the Bank of Louisiana, said they would seek no more than 27.5 percent of any settlement for attorney fees.

Grimm also made the following appointments:

  • For shareholder class actions: Labaton Sucharow in New York.

  • For derivative shareholder cases: Co-lead counsel Timothy Brown of The Brown Law Firm in Oyster Bay, New York, and Gregory Egleston of New York’s Gainey McKenna & Egleston, with Andrew O’Connell of Maryland’s Thomas & Libowitz as liaison counsel.