The Methodist Hospitals Inc. has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit and has created a fund of $425,000 to cover claims from victims of a 2019 data breach that affected almost 70,000 current and former patients.
The Gary, IN-based healthcare provider reported an email security incident to the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights on April 4, 2019, that resulted in the exposure and potential theft of the protected health information of 68,039 patients. The investigation confirmed hackers gained access to two employee email accounts between March 13, 2019, and July 8, 2019, following responses to phishing emails and potentially exfiltrated patient information such as names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, Medicare/Medicaid numbers, usernames, passwords, treatment and diagnosis information, and payment card information.
A lawsuit – Jones v. The Methodist Hospitals, Inc. – was filed in the Harris County District Court in Texas in the wake of the data breach that alleged The Methodist Hospitals was negligent for failing to adequately protect the protected health information of patients. Plaintiffs James Jones and Samantha L. Gordon, and members of the class allegedly suffered harm as a result of the data breach.
The Methodist Hospitals denied any wrongdoing and the OCR investigation was closed with no action taken; however, the decision was taken to settle the lawsuit to avoid further legal costs and the uncertainty of trial.
Under the terms of the settlement, eligible class members are entitled to submit a claim for two additional years of credit monitoring and identity theft resolution services, reimbursement for economic losses, and reimbursement for time lost due to the data breach. Claims for reimbursement of documented economic losses of up to $3,000 can be submitted and/or claims of up to $300 can be submitted for reimbursement of lost time. Final approval of the settlement was received on June 13, 2022. Claims must be submitted by October 6, 2022.
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