A potential class action lawsuit has been filed against two hospitals in Puerto Rico that experienced a ransomware attack in February 2019.
On February 15, 2019, there was a media report that the defendant hospitals in the suit — Pavia Hospital Santurce and Pavia Hospital Hato Rey — had suffered a ransomware attack that was discovered on February 12. At the time, the hospitals reported that they had no evidence that any protected health information had been exposed.
The incident was reported to HHS on April 13, 2019 as impacting 305,737 patients. The incident is listed on the breach tool in the “under investigation” section.
According to the complaint, filed on February 11 in District Court for Puerto Rico, notification letters were first sent to patients on June 18, 2019. DataBreaches.net has yet to find a copy of that notification to see what it says about protected health information — was there evidence that it was actually accessed? The exhibits to the complaint do not include a copy of the notification letter. The complaint states:
Plaintiffs and Class Members suffered significant injuries and damages. On information and belief, the security breach compromised the full names, addresses, dates of birth, gender, financial information, and social security numbers
DataBreaches.net has sent an inquiry to one of the hospitals requesting a copy of the notification letter.
So what injury is alleged in the complaint? It appears to be the standard complaint that plaintiffs — none of whom allege that they have experienced fraud or identity theft — have had to pay for monitoring services and will be at risk for years of fraud and other harms. There is no claim that the stolen data has actually been misused or even that it has shown up in any dark web marketplaces, etc. This is all about the cost of monitoring and what might happen in the future.
Most of the complaint merely rehashes studies and statements about the risks of hacked data, etc. And of course, it alleges that the entities did not uphold their duty of care to patients as established by HIPAA and the FTC, etc.
As complaints go, this one would likely have been tossed out years ago, but the times, they are a-changing, and I guess we’ll have to see what the court does with this one or as more information becomes available.