Lawsuit Looms Against Texas Comptroller

Attorneys with the Texas Civil Rights Project are seeking a deposition of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs in the wake of a huge public information security breach. The group says a class-action lawsuit may be the next step. Laurie Johnson reports.

Earlier this month, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced her office had inadvertently posted private information of millions of Texans on a public server.

The information included names, addresses, social security numbers and other sensitive details and was open to public access for a year before the error was identified.

Texas Civil Rights Project Director Jim Harrington calls the information leak grossly incompetent.

"The right of privacy in Texas, under our state constitution, is a fundamental right. People who are in government have the duty to protect that right and not allow its breach. And that's exactly what happened in this case is that you have a particular state official, the comptroller, who has this privacy information and was utterly negligent."

Harrington has filed a a petition in Travis County District Court to take depositions from Combs and employees in her office.

"After we digest that information, then we certainly consider whether to file a class-action against her on behalf of the 3.5 million Texans whose privacy rights were violated."

The Comptroller's office has 15 days to respond to the deposition petition. Combs has said the security leak was an accident and the private information was secured as soon as the error was discovered. More than three million people were notified over the past week that their personal information may have been compromised.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...