Maine brothers sue Northern Light for sharing their info with Blackbaud

Judy Harrison reports on a lawsuit stemming from the Blackbaud ransomware incident in 2020 that has been covered previously on this site.

Two brothers from Holden have sued Northern Light Health over a data breach last May that left them vulnerable to identity theft and affected more than 650,000 people.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Penobscot County Superior Court, claims that Northern Light violated Maine law by sharing personal health care information with Blackbaud Inc. for fundraising purposes without patients’ prior permission. Northern Light also allegedly failed to encrypt the information it shared with Blackbaud.

Read more on Bangor Daily News.

According to Harrison’s reporting, Jacob and Jeremy Gignac “are seeking to recoup the money they have spent to protect themselves from identity theft and are asking the Brewer-based health care organization to pay for monitoring of their personal information going forward to guard against future identity theft.”

But that’s not the most significant aspect to their lawsuit.  This lawsuit is interesting because it focuses on the disclosure of their health information for fundraising purposes without their prior authorization. Harrison reports:

Northern Light provided the information to Blackbaud as part of its “grateful patient fundraising efforts,” the complaint said. Blackbaud allegedly would cross-reference the information with its wealth research service to identify potential donors who had been patients of Northern Light.

This is a state court case about violation of state confidentiality law. Maine’s confidentiality law can be found here. That portion of their complaint that involved Blackbaud was refiled as part of a federal complaint against Blackbaud consolidated with a South Carolina complaint.

If this is certified as a class action, then Northern Light is looking at a potential class of more than 650,000 patients who may not have given their prior written consent for Northern Light to share their information with Blackbaud for fund-raising purposes. Northern Light did not provide Harrison with any comment on the suit at the time of the publication.

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