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OVHCloud hit with customer class action over March 2021 datacentre fire

OVHCloud said it cannot comment at this time on the legal action, which is being embarked upon to compensate customers who claim to have lost data as a result of the public cloud firm’s datacentre fire in March 2021

OVHCloud is being pursued for compensation, through a class action lawsuit, by 70 of its customers who claim to have lost data when the French public cloud firm’s datacentre in Strasbourg burned down in March 2021.

The class action is being overseen by Parisian law firm Ziegler & Associates, which confirmed in a statement to Computer Weekly that it is seeking “justice and compensation” amounting to €1.9m on behalf of its clients.

Work on the class action is understood to have begun in November 2021, with seven companies initially expressing an interest in seeking damages from OVHCloud after losing data in the fire.

In a follow-up statement to Computer Weekly, a spokesperson for Ziegler & Associates said it anticipates – by the end of this month – a further 30 OVHCloud customers will have signed up to join its class action.

The class action’s participants are known to include medical firms which claim to have lost prescription- and diagnosis-related data belonging to their patients because of the fire. There were also some travel and tourism companies affected by the fire that were left with incomplete reservation data, meaning they did not know the dates or type of accommodation their clients had booked.

Firms in the marketing sector were also affected, as they are understood to have lost data that prevented their clients from invoicing for products or required them to rebuild their websites from scratch.  

“The companies have lost their leading position on the Google search engine, which has been beneficial to their competitors but has created a drop in turnover for our customers. Some of them have even called on expensive service providers to try to recreate their websites,” a representative for Ziegler & Associates told Computer Weekly in a follow-up statement.

Read more about the OVHCloud datacentre campus fire

The OVHCloud fire saw the firm lose one datacentre in its Strasbourg server farm campus in France, while another on the site incurred damage. The after-effects of the event were felt for several weeks, as the firm raced to bring its clients’ applications and workloads back online in a timely manner.

The cause of the fire was initially attributed to a faulty uninterruptible power supply unit on the site, but – in the wake of the fire – the firm maintained that establishing the root cause was still the subject of an ongoing investigation.

The legal firm claims one of the affected companies has already made an abortive attempt to take legal action against OVHCloud on its own, which the tech firm allegedly responded to by putting forward four arguments. According to Ziegler & Associates, none of these are “legally admissible”.

These arguments include the claim that “no fault would be attributable to OVH”, that the fire itself should be classified as an unforeseen event, and that the company is not responsible for any “indirect damage” that occurred as a result of the incident.

“The firm can easily prove that additional security measures could have been taken, especially when the backups were on the same server as the originals… and the conditions for invoking force majeure [the unforeseen circumstances defence] are not met,” said Ziegler & Associates, in its statement. “Since the case of force majeure cannot be involved, OVH’s responsibility is engaged.”

The law firm added: “An official letter from Ziegler & Associates will be sent to OVH by the end of March. The appeal remains open to companies that would like to join it.”

Computer Weekly contacted OVHCloud for a response to Ziegler & Associates’ class action, but was told the company is unable to comment before the particulars of the legal act.

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