Health

Contractor hit with second class action suit over TRICARE data theft

Notable Solutions/Newscom

TRICARE contractor Science Applications International Corp. was hit with a second class action lawsuit filed in a California state court seeking unspecified monetary damages related to the theft of computer tapes containing the records of 4.9 million health care beneficiaries.

The latest suit seeks certification as a class action for all TRICARE beneficiaries in California whose personal identity and health care information were compromised by the theft of the tapes, which occurred in September 2011 in San Antonio. The suit was filed in December on behalf of retired Marine Col. Mark Losack in the Superior Court of California in San Diego by the law firms of Robbins Umeda LLP and Blood Hurst, & O'Reardon LLP.

The complaint says that while it is difficult to estimate the number of TRICARE beneficiaries in California whose personal information was stored on the stolen tapes, "the proposed class contains hundreds of thousands of members."

SAIC originally was sued over the data theft in a Texas state court last October in a class action suit, which sought $4.9 billion in damages on the behalf of one plaintiff. Richard Coffman, the Beaumont, Texas, attorney who filed that suit said he amended the complaint Dec. 13 to include an additional 13 plaintiffs from around the country.

TRICARE and the Defense Department, but not SAIC, were slammed with a $4.9 billion lawsuit filed last October in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Losack, who served 32 years in the Marine Corps, including during both Iraq wars, said he filed the suit because SAIC transported the tapes in an unsecure fashion in an employee's personal vehicle.

"I'm seriously confused by this," he said in an interview. Losack, a chiropractor, said if he treated patient information in such a cavalier fashion and it were stolen, his patients "would come after me with all guns blazing."

He added that he was concerned about identity theft as a result of the loss and said recent suspicious activity on his computers indicates that personal information contained on the tapes is being used to target him. Losack said it is plausible that the tapes already have been sold to overseas hackers.

Losack's suit alleges SAIC violated the California civil code by "willfully, recklessly and/or negligently" failing to maintain reasonable procedures to prevent unauthorized access to TRICARE beneficiaries' personal information and for negligence in storing and transporting the tapes. It also alleges that SAIC failed to promptly notify him of the theft as required by California law.

In addition to unspecified monetary damages, the Losack suit asks SAIC to pay for credit monitoring services (TRICARE directed SAIC to offer such service last November) and to identity theft insurance for the class of people covered by the action. It also asked that SAIC submit to periodic compliance audits by a third party of the steps it takes to ensure the security of consumer's private information in its possession, custody and control.

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