Wave of recent Massachusetts ZIP code cases following change in law and California’s lead

As anticipated, in the wake of the Supreme Judicial Court ruling on March 11, 2013, in Tyler v. Michaels Stores, Inc., retailers in Massachusetts are experiencing the same wave of consumer privacy class action lawsuits filed in California after its Supreme Court issued the Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc. decision in 2011. In Pineda, the court held that ZIP codes constitute personal identifying information (PII) under the California Song-Beverly Credit Card Act. This opened the door to mass litigation, as retailers previously understood PII under the act was limited to phone numbers and addresses. As in Pineda, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that requiring customers to provide ZIP codes while making a credit card purchase could violate Massachusetts’ statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, § 105(a) (restricting collection of PII during credit card transactions). Mere collection of the ZIP code alone was not enough to establish damages; however, the Court held that a consumer could show injury by receipt of unwanted marketing material or evidence the retailer sold the personal information. While it is unclear if other states will follow suit, this second round of privacy litigation around PII is cause for many retailers to rethink point of sale operations nationally.

View the full story here. (source: ABA).