SuperValu and Albertsons are clear from the threat of a class action lawsuit related to a 2014 data breach.
At the time, SuperValu owned a bulk of the Albertsons stores across the country, and provided back-office functions to the rest under an agreement with Boise-based New Albertsons Inc.
In the intervening years, New Albertsons Inc. purchased the stores it didn’t own from SuperValu. It later purchased the larger Safeway chain, and transitioned to Safeway’s IT systems – a process completed last year.
A district court earlier dismissed all claims against New Albertsons and its corporate cousin AB Acquisition because the plaintiffs never shopped at a store then owned by Albertsons.
Now, Law.com reports a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the entire class action suit based on the data breach.
Hackers hit SuperValu with a pair of cyberattacks that exposed customer credit and debit card details. The affected stores included Idaho Albertsons locations. But other personally identifying information like social security numbers were not in the stolen data trove.
The lead plaintiff, David Holmes of Belleville, Illinois didn’t prove any actual harm according to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“Holmes’s alleged injuries—the expenditure of time monitoring his account, the single fraudulent charge to his credit card, and the effort expended replacing his card—do not constitute actual damage,” Circuit Judge Jane Kelly wrote. “The time Holmes spent protecting himself against the threat of future identity theft does not amount to an out-of-pocket loss.”
The 8th Circuit also threw out two other claims. One alleged negligence on the part of SuperValue and New Albertsons. But the court said the companies aren’t actually required by Illinois law to protect customers’ financial info. It also dismissed an undue enrichment claim.
The twists and turns of Albertsons
Albertsons’ history gets a bit complicated at times. Joe Albertson founded the chain in Boise in 1939 – and it slowly, steadily grew over the years. In 1999, the company bought Utah-based American Stores and for a time grew to the largest grocer in the nation.
In 2001, Larry Johnston took over as CEO and Chairman. After five tumultuous years, the company sold itself off in 2006. Standalone drugstores went to CVS and rebranded. The bulk of the grocery stores, 1,124, including those in Idaho, were sold to Supervalu. A new company was formed to take over 661 so-called “underperforming” Albertsons stores, led by a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital. The Cerberus stores were based in Boise – despite not owning the locations here.
In 2013, after Supervalu struggled with the stores it bought, it sold them to the Cerberus-led company – reassembling the bulk of the grocery company. Headquarters for the company remained in Boise – and now included oversight of the Boise-area stores.
In 2014, Albertsons purchased Safeway – and in the years since worked to transition to many of Safeway’s back office functionality.