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Heartland, RBS WorldPay lawsuits consolidated

A federal court body ruled this week that litigation facing two payment processors, Heartland Payment Systems and RBS WorldPay, will be consolidated.

In separate judgments, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided this week that lawsuits against Heartland will be heard in Texas, while action against RBS WorldPay will be moved to Georgia.

Thirty-one separate lawsuits, on behalf of consumers, investors, banks and credit unions, have been filed against Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland, which disclosed in January that its systems were breached. Heartland did not say how many records were compromised, but some estimates placed the number around 100 million, making it the largest reported data breach in history.

"These actions share factual allegations concerning an electronic intrusion into Heartland's processing system," said the transfer order for Heartland, written by the panel's Chairman John Heyburn II. "Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary."

Texas reportedly was chosen as the location because that is where Heartland's IT personnel are based. A Heartland spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, RBS WorldPay is facing two separate actions, one in Georgia and another in Ohio. The panel decided on Georgia because RBS WorldPay, the payment-processing division of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, is based in Atlanta.

"A significant amount of discovery is likely to take place in that district," said Heyburn's transfer order for RBS.

RBS announced in December that personal data on some 1.5 million individuals may have been exposed in a hack.

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