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Hack Showed Sony Called Me a Thief, Ex Exec Says

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Former Sony VP Amy Heller has been unable to find a job since the infamous Sony hack disclosed that the company falsely accused her of stealing a $90 computer mouse, she says in state court.

The hacked Sony report also incorrectly cited that Heller was "terminated," when she was actually let go due to staff reductions in March 2014, she says.

Heller, former vice president of global commercial planning and innovation for Sony, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Sony Pictures Entertainment, Tristar Home Entertainment, Andrews International and Studio Payroll Services.

The suit includes claims for negligence, defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Heller had worked for Sony for five years when she was laid off in March 2014. She says she turned in her company phone and computer as directed and never returned to the office.

When a Sony technician went to Heller's "unsecured office" to inventory her equipment, he was unable to locate an ergonomic mouse, according to the complaint.

In a report titled "Property Crimes -Civil," Sony "falsely and maliciously attributed the alleged theft of the mouse to Ms. Heller - listing her as the 'suspect,'" the complaint says.

"Ms. Heller - an accomplished executive with a substantial salary and benefit package - did not take, remove or steal the $90 mouse," the complaint says.

The report, created nearly four months after Heller left her office, also incorrectly identified Heller as having been "terminated," she says.

Heller says no one from Sony ever called her to ask about the missing mouse, even though she was in contact with the human resources department through the end of May 2015 about her severance offer.

The report was made public after the hacker group "Guardians of Peace" took over the Sony network, compromising the information of 15,000 current and former employees.

"The data breach and its aftermath occurred because Sony failed to maintain reasonable and adequate security measures to safeguard its data, including sensitive personnel data. Sony had numerous warnings and opportunities to prevent, detect, end, or limit the scope of the data breach long before this particular 'hack' occurred," Heller says.

The Sony report about Heller and the missing mouse was released on WikiLeaks on May 14, 2015, damaging her reputation and making her attempts to find a new job futile, the complaint says.

"In spite of her excellent qualifications, Ms. Heller has not been able to secure work at even well below her prior executive level position," the complaint says.

Heller says prospective employers either independently discover the mouse report or she is compelled to disclose it to them during job interviews.

"And they naturally will not hire someone who was accused of theft from her last position," the complaint says.

Heller's lawsuit was filed on the same day that U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner approved a settlement in a class action filed by Sony employees who say the studio failed to protect against the supposedly North Korean-backed hack.

The settlement calls for a $2 million fund to pay each class member up to $1,000 to protect them from identity theft. Sony must also provide identity protection services for the next two years, and pay each class member up to $10,000 for ID thefts traced to the Sony hack.

Heller's complaint does not mention if she will opt out of the settlement since she is individually pursuing a negligence claim against Sony.

She seeks general and punitive damages.

Heller is represented by David deRubertis, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent by email on Wednesday afternoon.

Sony Pictures declined to comment.

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