Case No. 4:23-CV-00434-SRB (W.D. Mo.): PLAINTIFF OPPOSES UNITEDLEX’S MOTION TO DISMISS
On July 25, 2023, Plaintiff Adam Behrendt filed his brief opposing Defendant UnitedLex’s motion to dismiss Behrendt’s case for lack of personal jurisdiction or, alternatively, to transfer the matter to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.
Defendant’s motion, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, argued that the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri lacks personal jurisdiction over UnitedLex. In the law, put simply, personal jurisdiction refers to the concept of whether it’s fundamentally fair to sue a defendant in a given forum—here, in the state of Missouri. UnitedLex argued, generally, that a court seated in Missouri cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over UnitedLex because the company, in all relevant ways, allegedly had no significant contact with Missouri; UnitedLex is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. Should the Court happen to find that it does have personal jurisdiction over Defendant, UnitedLex argued, alternatively, that the case should be transferred to Kansas.
Plaintiff’s opposition argued that, in fact, UnitedLex maintained many relevant contacts with Missouri such that it’s entirely fair to sue Defendant in Missouri. Plaintiff Behrendt, a former UnitedLex employee who worked largely on a remote basis from his home in Missouri, submitted a declaration detailing the many contacts UnitedLex sustained with Missouri incident to his employment by Defendant. Broadly, Plaintiff argued that, because he was hired on a largely and then fully remote basis; exchanged tens of thousands of communications with UnitedLex from Missouri; received payments from UnitedLex at a Missouri-based bank; had minimal contact with Defendant’s Kansas-based facilities; was continuously connected to Defendant’s private network from Missouri; received work-related shipments in Missouri; and received the aforementioned, belated notice letter in Missouri, UnitedLex clearly availed itself of Missouri law.
1. What is this lawsuit against UnitedLex about?
The Behrendt v. UnitedLex Corporation case concerns a data breach at UnitedLex, a Kansas-headquartered company that specializes in litigation-focused technology-support services. Because UnitedLex has, per notice letters dated July 11, 2023, acknowledged that breach, that event is no longer merely alleged. In those letters, UnitedLex stated that it learned of the hack on March 6, 2023. The Behrendt lawsuit currently asserts, under Missouri state law, claims for negligence and breach of implied contract against Defendant alleging, generally, that UnitedLex was negligent in allowing the hack to occur at all, failing to mitigate damages from the hack, and informing the impacted parties of the breach with excessive delay. See Petition
2. What information was stolen during the breach?
In its July 11, 2023, notice letter to Plaintiff Behrendt, UnitedLex stated that information stolen in the hack may have included a combination of his name, Social Security number, financial account number, and benefits information, as well as information for his dependents. Obviously, such information may have been put on the Dark Web. See DataBreaches.net.
Plaintiff Behrendt alleged that he experienced a fraudulent tax return, fraudulent charges in his bank account, spam to his personal cell phone, and emotional distress because of the UnitedLex hack.
3. When did the litigation commence?
Mr. Behrendt filed his petition, in Jackson County, Missouri state court, on May 24, 2023—nearly two months before he received a notice letter. On June 20, 2023, Defendant removed the case to the appropriate federal court, the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
4. Where is the litigation happening?
As of June 20, 2023, the case is being litigated in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, a federal district court that sits within the Eighth Circuit appellate system. See W.D.Mo.
5. Who are the parties involved?
Plaintiff Adam Behrendt is an IT specialist and former employee of Defendant, having worked for UnitedLex from February 2019 until August 2022. Plaintiff worked from his home in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, on a basis that was almost entirely remote.
Defendant UnitedLex is a company that specializes in tech-intensive litigation-support services, including making recommendations for data security to corporate clients. Defendant is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, and claims to have about 3,000 employees globally. See UnitedLex.
6. What are the claims against UnitedLex?
Plaintiff has currently asserted claims for negligence and breach of implied contract under Missouri state law.
7. Is the case a proposed class action?
Yes. Currently, Plaintiff Behrendt has proposed that he serve as class representative on behalf of a nationwide class of employees and independent contractors who had their private information stolen during the hack.
8. Who might be an impacted party?
Based on information currently known, it seems that many of Defendant’s human resources files were stolen during the hack. Thus, it seems likely that current and former employees and independent contractors of UnitedLex may have had their personal information compromised. As stated, UnitedLex acknowledged that the personal information of dependents may have been stolen as well.