University of California wins appeal in data breach lawsuit; plaintiff couldn't prove data were viewed or accessed
An update on a lawsuit that followed this breach involving a stolen hard drive with encrypted PHI on over 16,000 UCLA patients.
A California appeals court on Tuesday found that the University of California’s Board of Regents couldn’t be held liable for disclosure when they lost a hard drive with a woman’s medical information on it because the disclosure itself could not be proven.
Plaintiff Melinda Platter filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in October 2012 alleging the university’s board had breached the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act when it lost the hard drive containing her medical information.
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You can read the court’s opinion here (pdf). From that ruling (emphasis added by PHIprivacy.net):
Ruling a damage claim may be stated under section 56.101, subdivision (a), based on a health care provider?s negligent maintenance or storage of an individual?s medical information without regard to whether it resulted in any actual release or disclosure of the information, respondent Los Angeles Superior Court overruled the Regents?s demurrer to Platter?s complaint. Although we do not agree with the Regents?s argument an affirmative communicative act by the health care provider is an essential element of Platter?s claim, we hold, by incorporating the remedy specified in section 56.36, subdivision (b), section 56.101 allows a private right of action for negligent maintenance only when such negligence results in unauthorized or wrongful access to the information. Because Platter cannot allege her information was improperly viewed or otherwise accessed, we grant the Regents?s petition and issue a writ of mandate to the superior court directing it to vacate its order overruling the Regents?s demurrer and to enter a new order sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend and dismissing the action.
The California Medical Association had filed an amicus brief in the appeal.