Automotive Recovery Services sued for alleged nonprotections of donor information

By Laura Halleman | Feb 5, 2017

SAN BRUNO, Calif. — A San Bruno resident has filed a complaint against Automotive Recovery Services, alleging that her personal information was not protected against hackers when she donated a car to charity.

Margarita Serrano filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Jan. 13, according to a previous report by the Northern California Record. The complaint faults Automotive Recovery Services Inc. for negligence and violation of the Unfair Competition Law and the California Data Breach Act.

The California Data Breach Act requires that “a business or state agency to notify any California resident whose unencrypted personal information, as defined, was acquired, or reasonably believed to have been acquired, by an unauthorized person.”

California's Unfair Competition Law is defined as “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising.”

Automotive Recovery Services Inc. is believed by Serrano to be responsible because they allegedly did not protect her private information and “failed to disclose material facts relating to its security practices,” as stated in the Northern California Record report.

The complaint alleges that Serrano’s personal information was exposed to the public in May 2015 because of Automotive Recovery Services' allegedly poor security procedures when she donated a vehicle to a separate charitable organization.

According to a business profile on, Automotive Recovery Services Inc. is a company based out of Carmel, Indiana. Automotive Recovery Services also operates under the name ADESA and is a subsidiary of KAR Auction Services Inc. It was founded in 2000 and does processing solutions for insurance companies, auction companies and other vehicle suppliers in the United States. The company picks up damaged and recovered stolen vehicles and other vehicles that are salvageable.

The legality of suing a company not based in California can be legal.

“It can be legal, depending on the facts of the case,” John Doherty, president of the Civil Justice Association of California, told the Northern California Record. “It’s a matter of whether the California courts are able to assert jurisdiction over the business, which is determined by how active the business is in California and the view of the court.”

Other factors may also come into play.

“A plaintiff my chose to do this both for choice of forum and law concerns that are viewed favorable to the case, or for the convenience of the plaintiff,” Doherty said.

The California court system may also be seen as more favorable to plantiffs.

“California has long been a favorite filing place for plaintiff attorneys,” Doherty said.

He added that filing a complaint in a different state than that of a defendant is common.

Serrano has requested a trial by jury. She is represented by Todd M. Friedman of the Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C. in Woodland Hills.

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