Thursday, November 8, 2007

Providence Judge Dismisses Patients' Data Loss Claims

Today, Judge Marilyn Litzenberger dismissed Providence patients' privacy claims for harms and losses resulting from the theft of computerized patient records. The case affects 350,000 patients. The motion to dismiss had been under consideration for a year. For the curious, the case is Gibson v. Providence Health System-Oregon, State of Oregon, Multnomah County Circuit Court Case No. 0601-01059.

Judge Litzenberger ruled that Oregon law did not provide a claim for Oregon patients affected by the loss. Paul & Sugerman represents the Providence patients.

At an early conference Judge Litzenberger had indicated that she was inclined to grant the motion to dismiss. She issued the decision on November 7, 2007.

When Providence first announced the security breach, it told its patients that they should take steps to protect themselves. Many patients went out and purchased identity theft protection service. Several weeks after the patients filed the lawsuit, Providence announced that it would make identity theft protection available. It eventually extended the theft protection for a second year.

It is fair to say that those of us who represent patients disagree with the judge's ruling. After all, when you go to the doctor you expect that your private health history and confidential identity information will be protected. This didn't happen.

The legal team is studying the opinion and considering its options. But for the present, it is a sad day for patients' rights.

David F. Sugerman
Paul & Sugerman, PC

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