A judge has chastised a lawyer for including the social security numbers and birthdays of 179 individuals in an electronic court brief, ordering him to pay a $5,000 sanction and provide credit monitoring.
US District Judge Michael J. Davis said he was meting out the penalty under his "inherent power," meaning no one in the court case had filed a motion requesting he do so. In an order issued late last month, he said the move was designed to prevent attorney Vincent J. Moccio from repeating the carelessness again.
"The court is deeply concerned with the harmful and widespread ramifications associated with negligent and inattentive electronic filing of court documents," he wrote. "Although electronic filing significantly improves the efficiency and accessibility of our court system, it also elevates the likelihood of identity theft and damage to personal privacy when lawyers fail to follow federal and local rules."
Davis ordered Moccio to send the individuals a letter informing them that their private information had been made public and that unless they objected within seven days, they would automatically begin receiving a year's worth of credit monitoring services free of charge. He also ordered the attorney to pay $5,000 to a Saint Paul, Minnesota, food bank.
Moccio is scheduled to appear in court next October to report on the status of the credit reports. ®