Washington State University (WSU) advised the public that on April 21, 2017, a safe was stolen from an off-site self-storage facility in Olympia, Washington. A backup hard drive belonging to WSU was in the safe. That hard drive contained personal data, including social security numbers, of over one million people, whose privacy is now potentially compromised. WSU obtained this information through inter-agency agreements with state and local agencies and school districts in order to conduct studies on behalf of those public agencies. In June 2017, WSU sent letters to individuals whose data was on the hard drive, offering them one year of free credit monitoring. Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC, led by attorneys Kim Stephens and James Bulthuis, is one of several law firms that represents the plaintiffs in the putative class action on behalf of the 1+ million people whose identity was put at risk.
On November 8, 2019, the King County Superior Court gave final approval to the settlement in the case. The university has set up a website with information for plaintiffs: WSUSettlement.com. Under the settlement, WSU has agreed to, among other things, (1) provide credit monitoring services and identity theft insurance; (2) provide cash payments to Settlement Class Members for reimbursement of certain documented Out-of-Pocket Costs incurred as a result of the breach; (3) provide cash payments of up to $15 per hour or up to three hours for time spent dealing with issues plausibly connected to the breach. In addition, WSU has taken or will take certain remedial measures and has enhacned security measures that it will continue to implement.