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OVHCloud facing client compensation class action claim of €10m over March 2021 datacentre fire

The law firm overseeing the class action against OVHCloud claims 140 clients are now seeking compensation for the data lost as a result of the March 2021 fire

OVHCloud is being pursued for €10m in compensation from clients whose business operations were affected by the fire in March 2021 at its datacentre campus in Strasbourg.

The company is the subject of a class action being overseen by Parisian law firm Ziegler & Associates, which began adding clients who lost data as a result of the fire to its roster in September 2021.

When news of the class action lawsuit against OVHCloud first emerged at the start of 2022, it was reported that 70 customers had joined it to seek €1.9m in compensation after losing business data during the fire.

In a statement, dated 30 May 2022, the law firm said the number of customers involved in the action has now doubled to 140, and the amount of compensation being sought has now risen accordingly to more than €10m.

The company also confirmed that it is preparing to send formal notices out to OVHCloud, on behalf of its clients, seeking compensation for the data they lost.

“The letter of formal notice is an official paper asking OVH for damages that companies are entitled to claim following this famous fire. It is, therefore, an attempt to reach an amicable agreement,” the statement reads.

The company said it is still missing some of the client data required to issue letters on behalf of all 140 of its clients, but confirmed it is in a position to send them out on behalf of 88 of the class action members at the moment. It added that it expects to have sent out the remainder of the letters by the end of June 2022.  

“The class action remains open, so companies wishing to join it can do so,” the company added.

The fire led to the complete destruction of one datacentre at the OVHCloud Strasbourg campus, as well as damage to one other, prompting web users to lose access to websites across Europe in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

The cause of the fire was initially put down to a faulty uninterruptible power supply unit that had reportedly been subject to maintenance work on the day of the incident.

A report by local news site JDN in March 2022 said that an investigation by the fire service had also cited the lack of an on-site automatic fire extinguishing system and difficulties in cutting off the electricity supply to the site as being key factors in the ability of the fire to spread. The firefighters’ report also picked holes in the limited fireproof capacity of the site’s wooden ceilings.

In the weeks that followed the fire, there were reports of enterprises struggling to restore the applications and workloads they had running within the affected facilities, while OVHCloud sought to make any spare capacity within its other datacentres in Europe available to customers caught up in the incident.

The class action’s participants are known to include medical firms, which are understood to have lost diagnostic and prescription-related data belonging to clients because of the fire, as well as travel and tourism companies which claimed it led to them losing business-critical guest reservation information.

A number of marketing firms are also known to have been affected, losing data that left them unable to invoice clients for products or required them to rebuild their websites from scratch.

Computer Weekly contacted OVHCloud for comment on this story and received the following statement in response from a company spokesperson.

“We have learned through the press that the Ziegler firm is considering sending us demand letters on behalf of clients who have selected them to represent them.These demand letters would be the first contact the firm would have with our company. We understand that these letters should explain the cases of the clients represented by their law firm. As we have not received them at this stage, it is impossible for us to comment on the cases that could be brought to the attention of our teams,” the spokesperson said. 

“From the very first hours, OVHcloud has made it a priority to support its affected customers. Commercial gestures and dedicated support have been granted for all the services concerned. This explains the low number of customers who have chosen the legal route. We remain determined to support and find solutions for each individual case which would be brought to our attention.”

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