By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co has asked judges in New York and New Jersey to require a lawyer representing a former employee to immediately return reams of client information the bank mistakenly sent to the attorney, a bank spokeswoman said on Monday.
In response to a New Jersey court case involving a dispute between ex-Wells Fargo employee Gary Sinderbrand and his brother who also worked there, the bank disclosed tens of thousands of client names, Social Security numbers, account balances and more, a lawyer for Sinderbrand wrote in a letter to the court.
The bank wants all the information returned immediately. It said it was mistakenly sent by Angela Turiano, who represents Wells as an attorney at Bressler Amery Ross.
"We take the security and privacy of our customers’ information very seriously," said Shea Leordeanu, a spokeswoman for the bank's brokerage Wells Fargo Advisors. "Our goals are to ensure the data is not disseminated, that it is rapidly returned, and that we ensure the discovery process going forward in the cases is working as it should."
Turiano directed Reuters inquiries to Leordeanu.
Sinderbrand, who is involved in a parallel lawsuit against his brother and Wells Fargo in New York state court, has not shared the information publicly. The New York Times reported on the release of data last week. (https://nyti.ms/2txuy3Y)
The documents and spreadsheets containing client information were originally provided to Aaron Miller, Sinderbrand's lawyer in the New Jersey case. Miller later shared knowledge of what the documents contained to Aaron Zeisler, who is representing Sinderbrand in the New York case.
In a letter to New York Supreme Court Judge Charles Ramos on Saturday, Zeisler described Sinderbrand as the "unwilling recipient" of personal information belonging to thousands of clients.
It was not immediately clear if Wells Fargo broke any rules or laws by disclosing client information. However, both New York and New Jersey have ethics rules that require lawyers to notify the other party if they receive information that "was inadvertently sent."
In his letter to Judge Ramos, Zeisler wrote that he notified Turiano on July 20 about the information, but that Wells Fargo's attorneys have not yet described which documents they want returned.
Zeisler declined to comment. Miller could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Additional reporting by Dan Freed in New York and Gaurika Juneja in Bangalore; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and David Gregorio)