Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Contingencies

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Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Jan. 31, 2015
Contingencies  
Contingencies

11. CONTINGENCIES

 

Rea Claim

 

On September 15, 2011, MSI was served with a lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court in and for the County of Orange (“Superior Court”) by four former store managers as a class action proceeding on behalf of themselves and certain former and current store managers employed by MSI in California. The lawsuit alleges that MSI improperly classified its store managers as exempt employees and as such failed to pay all wages, overtime, waiting time penalties and failed to provide accurate wage statements. The lawsuit also alleges that the foregoing conduct was in breach of various laws, including California’s unfair competition law. On December 3, 2013, the Superior Court entered an order certifying a class of approximately 200 members.  MSI successfully removed the case to the United States District Court for the Central District of California and on May 8, 2014, the class was de‑certifiedAs a result of the decertification, we have approximately 50 individual claims pending. We believe we have meritorious defenses and intend to defend the lawsuits vigorously. We do not believe the resolution of the lawsuits will have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.

 

Fair Credit Reporting Claim

On December 11, 2014, MSI was served with a lawsuit, Christina Graham v. Michaels Stores, Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a former associate.  The lawsuit is a purported class action, bringing plaintiff’s individual claims, as well as claims on behalf of a putative class of applicants who applied for employment with Michaels through an online application, and on whom a background check for employment was procured. The lawsuit alleges that MSI violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) and the New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to provide the proper disclosure and obtain the proper authorization to conduct background checks.  Since the initial filing, another named plaintiff joined the lawsuit, which was amended in February 2015, Christina Graham and Gary Anderson v. Michaels Stores, Inc., with substantially similar allegations.  The plaintiffs seek statutory and punitive damages as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. 

Following the filing of the Graham case in New Jersey, four additional purported class action lawsuits with five plaintiffs were filed, Raini Burnside v. Michaels Stores, Inc., pending in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Missouri, Michele Castro and Janice Bercut v. Michaels Stores, Inc., in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, Sue Gettings v. Michaels Stores, Inc., in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, and Barbara Horton v. Michaels Stores, Inc., in the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. All five plaintiffs allege violations of the FCRA.  In addition, Castro, Horton and Bercut also allege violations of California’s unfair competition law. 

Since the filing of these lawsuits, an application has been made to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and transfer the pending cases to the Northern District of Texas.  The Company intends to defend the lawsuits vigorously. We cannot reasonably estimate the potential loss, or range of loss, related to the lawsuits, if any.

 

Data Security Incident

 

Five putative class actions were filed against MSI relating to the January 2014 data breach.  The plaintiffs generally allege that MSI failed to secure and safeguard customers’ private information including credit and debit card information, and as such, breached an implied contract, and violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (and other states’ similar laws) and are seeking damages including declaratory relief, actual damages, punitive damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, remedial action, pre and post judgment interest, and other relief as available.  The cases, are as follows: Christina Moyer v. Michaels Stores, Inc., was filed on January 27, 2014; Michael and Jessica Gouwens v. Michaels Stores, Inc., was filed on January 29, 2014; Nancy Maize and Jessica Gordon v. Michaels Stores, Inc., was filed on February 21, 2014; and Daniel Ripes v. Michaels Stores, Inc., was filed on March 14, 2014. These four cases were filed in the United States District Court-Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.  On March 18, 2014, an additional putative class action was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Mary Jane Whalen v. Michaels Stores, Inc., but was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff on April 11, 2014 without prejudice to her right to re‑file a complaint. On April 16, 2014, an order was entered consolidating the remaining actions. On July 14, 2014, the Company’s motion to dismiss the consolidated complaint was granted. On August 11, 2014, plaintiffs filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment, which was denied on October 14, 2014. The deadline to file a notice of appeal expired on November 13, 2014. 

 

On December 2, 2014, Whalen filed a new lawsuit against MSI related to the data breach in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Mary Jane Whalen v. Michaels Stores, Inc., seeking damages including declaratory relief, monetary damages, statutory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, injunctive relief, pre and post judgment interest, and other relief as available. The Company intends to defend the lawsuit vigorously. We cannot reasonably estimate the potential loss, or range of loss, related to the lawsuit, if any.

In connection with the breach, payment card companies and associations may seek to require us to reimburse them for unauthorized card charges and costs to replace cards and may also impose fines or penalties in connection with the data breach, and enforcement authorities may also impose fines or other remedies against us. We have also incurred other costs associated with the data breach, including legal fees, investigative fees, costs of communications with customers and credit monitoring services provided to our customers. In addition, state and federal agencies, including states’ attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission may investigate events related to the data breach, including how it occurred, its consequences and our responses. Although we intend to cooperate in these investigations, we may be subject to fines or other obligations, which may have an adverse effect on how we operate our business and our results of operations. We cannot reasonably estimate the potential loss or range of loss related to any reimbursement costs, fines or penalties that may be assessed, if any.

California Zip Code Claims

 

On August 15, 2008, Linda Carson, a consumer, filed a purported class action proceeding against MSI in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego (“San Diego Superior Court”), on behalf of herself and all similarly-situated California consumers. The Carson lawsuit alleges that MSI unlawfully requested and recorded personally identifiable information (i.e., her zip code) as part of a credit card transaction. The plaintiff seeks statutory penalties, costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees. On February 10, 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled, in a similar matter, Williams-Sonoma v. Pineda, that zip codes are personally identifiable information and, therefore, the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971, as amended, prohibits businesses from requesting or requiring zip codes in connection with a credit card transaction.

 

Subsequent to the California Supreme Court decision, three additional purported class action lawsuits seeking similar relief have been filed against MSI: Carolyn Austin v. Michaels Stores, Inc. and Tiffany Heon v. Michaels Stores, Inc., both in the San Diego Superior Court, and Sandra A. Rubinstein v. Michaels Stores, Inc. in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Central Division. An order coordinating the cases has been entered and plaintiffs filed a consolidated complaint on April 24, 2012. The parties settled the lawsuit for an amount that will not have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements. On August 6, 2014, the court granted final approval of the settlement.

 

General

 

In addition to the litigation discussed above, we are now, and may be in the future, involved in various other lawsuits, claims and proceedings incident to the ordinary course of business. The results of litigation are inherently unpredictable. Any claims against us, whether meritorious or not, could be time consuming, result in costly litigation, require significant amounts of management time and result in diversion of significant resources.

For some of the matters disclosed above, as well as other matters previously disclosed in the Company’s filings with the SEC, the Company is able to estimate a range of losses in excess of the amounts recorded, if any, in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.  As of January 31, 2015, the aggregate estimated loss is approximately $17 million, which includes amounts recorded by the Company.