Judge: Haley, Etter not personally liable for hacking
Governor Nikki Haley and Former SCDOR Director Jim Etter speak to the media in the days after the hacking incident became public.
COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley and the state's former revenue director were dismissed from
a lawsuit Thursday over a massive security breach at South Carolina's tax
But Circuit Judge G. Thomas Cooper said during a hearing in Columbia he
needed more time to consider requests to dismiss the case against Haley's
office, the Department of Revenue, South Carolina's Division of Information
Technology and a private data security company.
Former state Sen. John Hawkins filed the lawsuit last year after officials
announced a cyber-thief had hacked into the revenue agency's servers and taken
unencrypted data from 3.8 million individual tax filers and 700,000 businesses
in the nation's largest hacking of a state agency.
The data was extracted Sept. 13 - the last of several system intrusions
since August. Jim Etter, who resigned as revenue director at the end of last
year, has said state officials didn't learn of the breach until Oct. 10, when
the U.S. Secret Service informed state law enforcement.
The lawsuit accuses state agencies of failing to protect taxpayers and
conspiring to keep news of the hacking from the public. Hawkins later amended
his lawsuit to include Trustwave - an international technology company the
state has used since 2005 - and the state information technology agency, saying
both entities didn't safeguard taxpayers' information.
Trustwave attorney Jimmy Long said his client isn't part of South Carolina's
government and couldn't have engaged in any conspiracy. Bobby Stepp, an
attorney for the information technology agency, said his client was basically
only a "landlord" for the Revenue Department's servers, which it
doesn't own or maintain.
"We don't really think we're a player here," Stepp said. "We
have no ability to control what goes on within those servers."
Butch Bowers, a lawyer for Haley's office and the Revenue Department, said
Hawkins' claims should be dismissed because he couldn't show that any taxpayers
had so far been harmed financially by the hacking.
"The state has spent in excess of $12 million to remedy any prospective
harm," Bowers said. "The government ... has stood up and said: Look,
this happened. We're going to do everything in our power to ensure that the
citizens of South Carolina are protected."
The Revenue Department has been approved for a $20 million loan from the
state's insurance reserve fund to pay for the government's hacking response.
The largest chunk of that - $12 million - has been paid to the credit bureau
Experian, which is providing a year's worth of state-funded credit monitoring
to any taxpayers who sign up by the end of March. A state lawmaker has also
proposed extending that state-paid credit monitoring to a decade.
Attorneys for the state say Hawkins' lawsuit should be halted while law
enforcement continues its criminal investigation. Cooper didn't say when he
would rule on the dismissal motions but gave all attorneys 10 days to submit
Hawkins is also seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, saying he hopes
to represent all taxpayers whose Social Security numbers and credit card
information was compromised.
State law limits the liability of public agencies in negligence cases to
$600,000 per occurrence. That means if a judge considered the hacking to have
been a single event, and, millions sued the state and won, their takeaway would
be pennies apiece.
Hawkins argues his case is covered by a separate law that provides a fine of
up to $1,000 for each resident whose information is breached. Whatever a judge
decides on that front, the liability limit does not apply to private companies
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:41 PM EDT2013-05-23 18:41:45 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - NOAA has just released its first outlook for the number of tropical storms and hurricanes expected this year. They are once again forecasting an active to extremely active season.More >>
NOAA has just released its first outlook for the number of tropical storms and hurricanes expected this year. They are once again forecasting an active to extremely active season.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 2:23 PM EDT2013-05-23 18:23:03 GMT
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - An investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has landed a Pawleys Island man behind bars, charged with breach of trust. That investigation was requestedMore >>
An investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has landed a Pawleys Island man behind bars, charged with breach of trust.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:25 PM EDT2013-05-23 17:25:54 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – In recognition of Military Appreciation days, five "Travel Bugs" have been stashed around the area to be found by geo-caching enthusiasts this month. The five bugs are for each branchMore >>
In recognition of Military Appreciation days, five "Travel Bugs" have been created to be found by geo-caching enthusiasts this month.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 12:51 PM EDT2013-05-23 16:51:07 GMT
ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) – BikeFest officially kicks off on Thursday, and folks in Atlantic Beach are busy preparing for the festival. Atlantic Beach expects a crowd of more than 200,000 bikers thisMore >>
BikeFest officially kicks off on Thursday, and folks in Atlantic Beach are busy preparing for the festival.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:58 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:58:18 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – One motorcycle rider is dead after the driver of a white van failed to yield to the rider's right of way Wednesday night, then drove off after the collision, police officialsMore >>
A Lumberton man is dead after the driver of a white van failed to yield to the rider's right of way Wednesday night, then drove off after the collision.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:33 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:33:06 GMT
(WCNC) A Charlotte, North Carolina woman had her son arrested for stealing her Pop-Tarts earlier this week.According to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police report, the mother called investigators on MondayMore >>
A Charlotte, North Carolina woman had her son arrested for stealing her Pop-Tarts earlier this week.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 11:16 AM EDT2013-05-23 15:16:11 GMT
CHERAW, SC (WMBF) - A SLED investigation has landed a 49-year-old Cheraw man behind bars. David Ray Campbell is charged with two counts of attempted murder and pointing and presenting a firearm. TheMore >>
A SLED investigation has landed a 49-year-old Cheraw man behind bars.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:37 AM EDT2013-05-23 14:37:33 GMT
HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - How long after realizing that you won $200,000 from the South Carolina Education Lottery would you wait to claim your prize? For a mother from Hartsville, the answer to that questionMore >>
How long after realizing that you won $200,000 from the South Carolina Education Lottery would you wait to claim your prize?More >>