A federal district judge in Washington on Thursday picked Daniel Girard, managing partner of Girard Gibbs in San Francisco, to serve as lead counsel for federal employees suing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management over data breaches that exposed the private information of millions of government workers.
Girard Gibbs was one of six law firms representing plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against the federal government to seek appointment as lead counsel. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson heard arguments from the candidates on Jan. 21.
Girard was not immediately available for comment on Thursday evening. He is a lead attorney for the American Federation of Government Employees, which filed one of several putative national class actions against OPM.
Jackson also appointed Gary Mason of Whitfield Bryson & Mason in Washington as liaison counsel and three lawyers—John Yanchunis of Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group in Tampa, Florida; Tina Wolfson of Ahdoot & Wolfson in West Hollywood, California; and David Thompson of Cooper & Kirk in Washington—to the plaintiffs’ steering committee.
“The court expects that this leadership team will call upon the talent and expertise of the many other extremely well-qualified attorneys in the case—some of whom submitted applications and some of whom did not—to aid in the many important tasks ahead in this litigation,” Jackson wrote.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in October consolidated cases related to the data breaches in the D.C. court before Jackson. At least eighteen lawsuits were filed in federal district courts nationwide.
Over the past year, OPM disclosed two data breaches in which personal information about federal employees was stolen. The first involved the personnel data of 4.2 million current and former federal employees. The second involved the records of current, former and prospective federal employees who applied for background checks, as well as information about family members or people they live with. The second breach affected more than 20 million people.
In response to the thefts, OPM offered identity theft protection and credit monitoring services to employees and family members who were affected.
With the plaintiffs’ counsel leadership team in place, the next step is for the plaintiffs to file an amended joint complaint. That will be due in about a month.