(TNS) -- A lawsuit filed Thursday seeks to recover data and damages from Portland internet service provider Spirit One, whose email service has been largely unaccessible to customers since September 29.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for Oregon, follows Spirit One's admission this week that it inadvertently gave one customer access to other subscribers' emails during the prolonged outage.
"Our first priority right now is securing the data," said Portland attorney Michael Fuller, who filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Timothy Walton, a Spirit One customer in California. "That could just be devastating if it got in the wrong hands."
Spirit One chief executive John Ogden did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the suit.
It alleges that Spirit One "remained significantly underfunded, failed to implement industry-standard technology safeguards, failed to observe corporate formalities, and co-mingled assets, in part to avoid liability from ongoing complaints and claims against it."
The suit seeks to hold Spirit One's corporate parent, Telecomputer Services Inc., accountable for the collapse in service and says it may also attempt to hold Ogden responsible for the company's problems.
"Many of defendants' customers had tens of thousands of personal, private emails on defendants' servers dating back over a decade," the lawsuit claims. It seeks class-action status to represent additional Spirit One customers. The company hasn't said how many subscribers it has; the suit says there may be more than 7,000.
The lawsuit does not seek specific financial damages and it's not clear that Ogden or Spirit One have any resources to collect. Fuller, the attorney who filed the suit, said it's possible Spirit One had insurance or that there may be other defendants identified later.
But Fuller said that regardless of Spirit One's financial situation, the suit will seek to regain access to customers' email accounts and to ensure their private email stays private. It's possible, he said, a court might order the accounts transferred to another internet service provider.
"We filed this for the most part just to secure the data," he said.
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