An apparent settlement between Home Depot and MasterCard International Inc. over a massive customer data breach last year has prompted lawyers for financial institutions that are suing the Atlanta-based home improvement chain for damages caused by hackers to cry foul.

Counsel for the plaintiff banks and credit unions claim that, over the Thanksgiving holiday, without their knowledge, agents of Home Depot sent "highly misleading and coercive communications" offering an apparent settlement to their clients and other potential plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation. The notices were sent as the presiding judge was still considering whether to allow Home Depot to communicate directly with potential class members without prior screening either by plaintiffs' attorneys or the court.

The notices announced a deal between Home Depot and MasterCard, which is not a plaintiff in the multidistrict litigation.

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