WILMINGTON, N.C. — A North Carolina gas station filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the Colonial Pipeline on June 21. EZ Mart, located off Castle Hayne Road in Wilmington, seeks to represent more than 11,000 gas stations that were negatively affected by the pipeline's six-day shutdown in May following a cyberattack.
Attorneys claim that Colonial failed to heed warnings and properly safeguard its systems against a ransomware attack, reported The State. The proposed class action was brought by the Rhine Law Firm in Wilmington as well as attorneys with Morgan & Morgan, Wallace & Graham PA and Hall & Green Law.
"Because of the six-day shutdown, owners of gas stations ran out of gasoline to sell to their customers and suffered a loss of revenue," attorneys stated.
Fuel shortages lingered for days following the May 12 restart of the pipeline, as Convenience Store News reported.
EZ Mart is a two-pump gas station with a convenience mart that is owned and operated by Abeer Darwich and Ahmad "Eddie" Darwich. They reportedly only learned about the shutdown on May 10, three days after Colonial announced the cyberattack and its need to take some systems offline. According to the owners, EZ Mart ran out of fuel on May 12 and was unable to fill up its fuel pumps until May 21. Sales at the convenience store during this time dropped "precipitously" despite the influx of drivers passing through as the region prepared for tourist season.
According to attorneys for the proposed class, the cyberattack was "entirely avoidable." They also stated that Colonial should have already had basic protections in place, but it instead ignored multiple attempts by the Transportation Security Administration to conduct security assessments.
"The danger of an attack on pipeline facilities was discussed as a national security risk as early as 2000 and the risk of a cyber-attack on pipelines, like this ransomware attack, was discussed in congressional testimony as early as 2011 and 2012," said attorney John Green in a news release.
The lawsuit makes claims for negligence and seeks a judge's order finding that Colonial's cybersecurity measures were inadequate and should be corrected to prevent future attacks, according to the report.
A Colonial representative told McClatchy News that it is aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment further.
"While we cannot comment on pending litigation, Colonial Pipeline worked around the clock to safely restart our pipeline system following the cyberattack against our company," the spokesperson said.