Another class action lawsuit against Empress EMS filed over July ransomware attack

Another lawsuit has been filed in the wake of a ransomware attack on a New York  ambulance service. Now we hear that the victim paid ransom. Will it make a difference?

Firehouse reports:

A lawsuit has been filed against Empress Ambulance in New York after hackers accessed patient information.

According to the class action lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court last week, Empress Ambulance – one of the state’s largest private ambulance services – failed to notify customers about the information that hackers were able to obtain.

Ransomware group Hive Gang, known for infiltrating security systems, hacked the system in May but it was not realized by Empress officials until July, according to the New York Post.

Read more at Firehouse.

This is not the first or only lawsuit filed in response to this incident.  As of today, there appear to be five potential class action lawsuits filed against Empress in the Southern District of New York resulting from this incident.

DataBreaches first reported on this incident in September after Empress disclosed the incident to HHS as affecting more than 318,000 patients.

Hive first revealed Empress as a victim on July 16, but susbsequently removed the listing.
It did not appear on their site for long, but this was Hive’s listing for Empress EMS on their dedicated leak site.

 

 

DataBreaches had first contacted Empress in July when Hive had made DataBreaches aware of the breach and sent DataBreaches a copy of their email communication to Empress with some data as proof.

Empress never responded to DataBreaches’ inquiries in July.

Empress eventually posted a statement on their web site, but there was no notice on their site in July that DataBreaches could find and no link from Empress’s home page to any notice.  A notice posted on their site in September had the same contents as what now appears on security incident page, but that first notice was created on September 2 and appeared at http://empressems.com/securitynotice.pdf. It was first archived by archived.org  on September 20. The archived version can be found here.

The notice makes no mention of ransom.

Because Hive never leaked all of Empress’s data, DataBreaches sent an inquiry to Hive this week asking them their intentions for the data. To this site’s  surprise, Hive responded that Empress had paid them.

DataBreaches sent an inquiry to Empress EMS with several questions in light of Hive’s statement to this site. One of the questions was whether Empress has told those affected that they paid ransom in an effort to protect their PHI and information.

Once again, Empress did not respond to inquiries.

Will having paid Hive (assuming for now that it’s true) help Empress defend against the lawsuits because they will claim they took steps to mitigate harm this way? Most suits seem to settle, and DataBreaches would expect this one to settle, too, but what impact will any ransom payment have on the litigation?

 

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