(Recasts lead; adds details on lawsuit and background on litigation)
April 12 (Reuters) - West Virginia sued Equifax Inc on Thursday for failing to safeguard consumer information of hundreds of thousands of state residents and for delaying alerting the public to a breach that exposed the personal data of about 148 million people, the state’s attorney general said.
The attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, said he filed the lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court. It was the second lawsuit filed by a state attorney general since Equifax disclosed the breach in September.
“Equifax’s failure to secure consumers’ personal information constitutes a shocking betrayal of public trust and an egregious violation of West Virginia consumer protection and data privacy laws,” Morrisey said in a statement.
Equifax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Equifax also faces class action lawsuits and investigations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and various state attorneys general over the data breach.
A judge in Massachusetts earlier this month rejected Equifax’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by that state’s attorney general, Maura Healey.
The West Virginia lawsuit accused Equifax of taking no action to secure its online dispute portal despite prior warnings of vulnerability within its framework and of failing to recognize that hackers had penetrated its system from May 2017 to July 2017.
Morrisey’s office said the breach exposed the data of more than 730,000 West Virginian residents. The lawsuit seeks $150,000 for each security breach and $5,000 for each violation of the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Leslie Adler)