Former Sony Employee Files Negligence, Defamation Suit Against Studio

Amy Heller claims last year’s hack is preventing her from finding employment and Sony’s “lack of secure systems caused her emotional distress”

Exactly one year after the infamous Sony hack, former Sony VP, Global Commercial Planning and Innovation Amy Heller has sued the studio and other defendants for defamation, negligence and invasion of privacy. 

In the complaint, Heller is seeking multiple damages and unspecified compensation for loss of income, as well as claiming that Sony’s lack of secure systems caused her emotional distress. 

Heller, who was laid off in the spring of 2014, says the studio acted in a “deliberate, cold, callous, fraudulent, and intentional manner in order to injure and damage” her. 

According to the suit, Sony knew of the hack before it happened but “failed to maintain reasonable and adequate security measures to safeguard its data, including sensitive personnel” information. 

Because of this, a “false and defamatory ‘mouse’ theft accusation” was made public. In or about March 17, 2014, Heller was laid-off along with numerous Sony employees. According to her, she did not have time to remove her personal belongings, including her artwork, from her office. Three months after Heller vacated her office, Sony Information Technology claimed that a computer mouse, valued at $90, was missing from her office. It was classified as “Property Crimes — Civil,” which “falsely and maliciously attributed the alleged theft of the mouse to Ms. Heller — listing her as the ‘The Suspect.'”

Heller alleges she was never asked about the missing mouse, although she was in communication with the Sony Human Resources Department through May 2015.

Moreover, the report also states Heller was “terminated,” when Heller claims she was simply laid off as “part of a general reduction-in-force,” therefore, Sony “negligently, recklessly and intentionally cause false publications of and concerning the plaintiff.”

During the search to find new employment, the “mouse” report was released on WikiLeaks, damaging “Ms. Heller’s reputation, and has been a substantial factor in preventing her from obtaining other employment,” stated the suit.

“In spite of her excellent qualifications, Ms. Heller has not been able to secure work at even well-below her prior executive level position,” the 22-page complaint claimed. “Prospective employers know and see from Ms. Heller’s resume that she previously worked at Sony and, naturally, they inquire into or otherwise search to see if she was affected by the ‘Sony hack.’ And they naturally will not hire someone who was accused of theft from her last position.”

Heller is also suing the defendants for negligence, claiming “plaintiff was a foreseeable and probably victim of inadequate security practices. Sony knew or should have known that its network was inadequately safeguarded, particularly in light of multiple prior breaches.”

She says all of the above-mentioned claims were “made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for their truth.”

The plaintiff seeks general and special damages, punitive and exemplary damages in an amount to punish Defendants, declaratory and/or or injunctive relief, costs of suit incurred herein and for pre-judgement interest.

David deRubertis and Alyssa Schabloski of The deRubertis Law Firm are representing Heller.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.