These Heroic Lawsuits Seek Damages for “Loss of Credit Card Earning Capacity”

I’ve been in deep legal research mode the past few weeks and thought it would be interesting to see if there were any recent credit-card-reward-related cases out there.  There aren’t many. But you know the saying: one snowflake starts an avalanche. Sorry about that.

Our Story Begins at Your Local Wendy’s and Chipotle

Each of the heroic tales involve the same initial facts. Restaurant computer systems are hacked and customer credit card data is stolen. The victims, our heroes, are all members in class action lawsuits against the restaurants.

In Torres v. Wendy’s Int’l, LLC, several class action members sued for “[foregone] credit card reward points and/or cash-back rewards.”

In Gordon v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., a member sued for the loss of cash-back rewards he would have earned while awaiting delivery of his new card.  Both courts allowed the cases to move forward.

Obviously, all of the class action members sought damages related to identity theft or fraud, or for being placed at a higher risk of identity theft and fraud—but the heroes I describe claimed credit card reward value as damages as well.

Why These Cases Could Be Important

It got me thinking.  I know the snowflake thing above is cringeworthy, but it’s sorta, kinda serious (maybe a domino analogy is more your thing).  Those were the only recent cases I saw that claimed the foregone value of credit card rewards as a recoverable lawsuit damage. But those court rulings could certainly stand for the proposition that a person could sue for the value of a lost benefit

In what instance would it ever be worth a person’s while to sue solely for “lost credit card reward/benefit earning potential?”

First, I thought, what if a data breach or stolen credit card caused me to miss my American Express Platinum credits/perks (i.e., $15 monthly Uber, $200 airline incidentals or even access to that Global WeWork Membership?) Filing fees for a lawsuit would be more than that. I guess small claims could be an option. But would it be worth my time? Probably not.

Next, I considered earn rate.  The American Express Platinum earns 5x points on airfare.  But even if a stolen card caused me to miss a $10,000 airline expense, would 50,000 foregone Membership Rewards be worth the hassle of a lawsuit?  Again, I’m still hesitant.

I Enter This As Exhibit B…

But then, I thought of a scenario where our heroes cases could have potential significance in future cases.

Travel protection.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred provides travel protection insurance reimbursing your costs up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip if a trip is cancelled or cut short by sickness, severe weather, accidental bodily injury, and even a call to jury duty. There’s also currently a 60,000 bonus point sign up offer*.

*As of Aug 1, 2019 (Original publish date)

I’m calling it now.  This is going to be situation that uses our Wendy’s and Chipotle hero cases as precedent.  And in a world where it seems a data breach happens every week, it will be interesting to see how credit card benefits evolve into actual, recoverable assets.

And, for those of you still reading to see whether I’m going to tell you if you can sue for lost rewards, I’ll answer as any lawyer would and say, “I mean, maybe. I’ll argue it for you.”

The post These Heroic Lawsuits Seek Damages for “Loss of Credit Card Earning Capacity” was first published on Coworkaholic.

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