Florida Hospital Faces Two Data Breach Lawsuits
Friday, July 17, 2015
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health LawFlorida Hospital is facing two possible class action lawsuits. Each one of the lawsuits involves separate data breaches of patient information over the past four years.The lawsuits are both pending in the Orange County Circuit Court.Two Breaches Over Four Years.The first data breach was revealed in August 2011 and involved Florida Hospital employees Dale and Katrina Munroe, who swept through thousands of patient records and sold data to lawyers and chiropractors. According to court records, the Munroes were paid $10,000 by a local chiropractor to pull the information on victims of motor vehicle accidents. Dale Munroe accessed more than 700,000 records from 2009 to 2011. The chiropractor then allegedly called the victims to solicit business, offering his chiropractic services. Both employees were terminated and charged criminally. They, along with the chiropractor, pleaded guilty to criminal charges.The second breach was discovered in May 2014. It involved two employees obtaining medical records for nearly 9,000 patients over the span of two years. Unnamed in the lawsuits, the employees were fired. This case was allegedly found by state investigators in a criminal case.Patients are Becoming Plaintiffs.In the first data breach, patients from Florida Hospital’s Apopka location and its Altamonte campus are the named plaintiffs. This lawsuit is handled by local attorney Edmund Normand.In the 2014 case, the attorney is John Yanchunis of Orlando’s Morgan and Morgan law firm. The plaintiffs are the parents of a patient. This case cites the 2011 case as evidence that the hospital has been aware of the data breaches for some time now and has not taken appropriate action to fix the problem.The Hospital Defends Itself.Florida Hospital argued that the lawsuits shouldn’t be allowed to proceed because they are missing the important fact that the plaintiffs have not suffered any identity theft. Not yet, at least.The attorneys for Florida Hospital claim that no Florida court has recognized a fiduciary duty between a hospital and patient. They also argue that the plaintiffs can’t enforce federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations through a private civil action. Florida Hospital also argues that plaintiffs have no right to sue based on a legal theory of “increased risk of identity theft.”However, the hospital did allegedly admit that their employees were willfully violating the policies regarding HIPAA compliance and patient data security.Comments? Do you think Florida Hospital makes a valid argument about identity theft? Have you ever been a victim of a data breach? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.Contact an Experienced Health Care Attorney.The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care providers and institutions in investigations and defending alleged HIPAA and FIPA complaints and violations and in advising on data breaches.To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.Sources:Brinkman, Paul. “Florida Hospital faces two data breach lawsuits.” Orlando Sentinel. (July 8, 2015). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-florida-hospital-data-breach-20150708-post.htmlWFTV. “WFTV talks to doctor suspected of benefiting from Florida Hospital's record breach.” (Sept. 26, 2012). From: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/wftv-talks-doctor-suspected-benefiting-florida-hos/nSMsK/
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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