According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Home Depot has been given until July to respond to litigious claims that its 2014 data breach was the result of negligence and failure to adequately comply with security standards and guidelines.

Dozens of class-action lawsuits against the company were consolidated into one court battle in Atlanta's federal court. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash established two separate litigation tracks for the case: one for consumers and one for financial institutions. 

"While many of the legal issues and much of the discovery [of facts and documents] are common to the claims of both, the cases present significant, distinct factual and legal issues," said Judge Thrash in his recent ruling. 

Both the consumers and institutions suing have until April to file their master complaints against Home Depot, and Home Depot must respond to those complaints by July. 

Home Depot is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter results on Feb. 24, and the business is expected to use that opportunity to also update its consumers on the data breach investigation. In its third-quarter earnings report, the company announced a $28 million in pretax expenses as a direct result of the breach, but the full loss will not be known for some time. 

Ensure that your business is using only the most secure and high-tech credit card payment processor, so you never have to clean up the mess that comes with a data breach. By choosing a sophisticated program and upgrading it consistently, you'll be protecting both your company and your customers. It's crucial for the future of your business that your customers' payment card information remains private.