Pierce O'Donnell Appears Before Ninth Circuit in Terpin v. AT&T SIM Swap Case

March 13, 2024Press Release
Greenberg Glusker Press Release

Terpin v. AT&T Mobility is a lawsuit filed by well-known, respected crypto pioneer and leader Michal Terpin. In January 2018, his AT&T cell phone account was hacked by a 15-year-old, and a SIM swap was effected by the hacker and an AT&T store agent who had been bribed by the hacker. As a result, the hacker took over Terpin's account (calls, emails, and texts) and $24 million was stolen from Terpin's crypto accounts.

Represented by Greenberg Glusker with senior partner Pierce O'Donnell as lead trial counsel, along with partners Tim Toohey and Paul Blechner, Terpin sued AT&T for damages in federal court in Los Angeles. Terpin alleged serious violations of the customer privacy protections of the Federal Communications Act, fraud, and other wrongful conduct that enabled the teenager to steal Terpin's crypto. On the eve of trial last spring, the federal judge granted summary judgment and dismissed the case.

Terpin appealed, and the spirited oral argument was heard on March 8th before a panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case is being widely watched in the communications and consumer protection sectors because the appeal raises a question of first impression in the federal appellate courts concerning the extent of protection for cell phone customers when their carriers allow a breach of security and SIM swap leading to theft of identity, bank accounts, and crypto holdings. A decision is not expected for several months.