Anthem Insurance, the nation’s second largest health insurance company, is the target of a potential class action lawsuit in the wake of the data breach it sustained on February 4, 2015. The breach affected over 80 million of the company’s personal records. Attorney Lynn Toops, who is leading the litigation, discusses the breach and the lawsuit.
Toops explains that the breach involved not financial information, but rather personal information, a much more serious issue. The information exposed by the breach inincludes social security numbers, birthdates, and possibly medical ID numbers, as well as names, telephone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses.
Toops says that the gist of the lawsuit involves Anthem’s failing to protect its customers’ information as it had contracted to do. “They made promises to protect that information, and they didn’t do it.” Toops adds that the lawsuit also involves charges of negligence and claims for violation of some state laws.
Toops explains that there were several problems with Anthem’s handling of the information provided by their customers. First, and worst, the data was not encrypted. That meant that anyone who broke into their database could immediately use the information found. Also, there was inadequate security to protect the database. Only one password was required to gain access. It also appears that Anthem’s software was not capable of detecting when massive amounts of data were being extracted from the system. Toops points out that more information as to the exact nature of the problems at Anthem will be known as discovery proceeds.
Toops says that her firm is “hearing from scores of people across the United States [who] are having tax fraud issues, loans taken out in their names,” and other problems such as contact from telemarketers. “This is going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.” Thus far, there has not been much response from Anthem, at least to the lawsuit. The company is offering two years of credit monitoring for its customers, but monitoring won’t stop tax fraud issues.
The next step, Toops says, will be to seek to gain certification for the case to proceed as a class action. There are other cases proceeding in other courts, cases involving Target and Home Depot, that are being watched closely, as they involve the same kinds of data breach problems. As to the question of damages, Toops says it is too early to know exactly the nature of the damages that will ultimately be sought.
Lynn Toops is an associate at Cohen & Malad in Indianapolis. She has worked for the firm since 2008. Lynn concentrates her practice in the area of class action litigation, obtaining recoveries on behalf of consumers and businesses that have been harmed by a practice, scam, or event that has affected many other consumers and businesses. Lynn’s class action cases have involved suing governmental officials, governmental entities, banks, corporations, debt collectors, employers, and others. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.