South Country Health Alliance Data Breach Class Action Lawsuit Filed

Hellmuth & Johnson has announced the filing of a class action data breach lawsuit against South Country Health Alliance (SCHA) in Steele County (Owatonna, Minnesota) on behalf of its client and all similarly situated individuals whose data was compromised.

The Class Action Complaint, filed on April 29, 2021, alleges that SCHA failed to adequately secure its members’ protected health information (PHI). On June 25, 2020 an unauthorized individual or individuals accessed the email account of an employee that subsequently allowed access to 66,874 members’ PHI. The PHI that is alleged to have been compromised includes member names, Social Security numbers, addresses, Medicare and Medicaid numbers, health insurance information, diagnostic and/or treatment information, dates of death (if applicable), provider name and treatment costs information.

Approximately six-months later on December 30, 2020, SCHA began notifying members of the data breach of the PHI of its members. The delay in issuing the notifications to members was allegedly due to the time taken to identify current mailing addresses for the affected members whose data was compromised. The notice encouraged SCHA members to call a dedicated toll-free line to answer member questions and recommended that members contact their financial institutions is they noticed any suspicious or unauthorized activity on their accounts. The notice failed to identify a single action SCHA took to increase security and protect members’ data in the future.

Despite SCHA’s Privacy Policy assurances to its members that they “can be assured that every effort is taken to comply with federal and state laws, rules and regulations – physically, electronically, and procedurally – to safeguard your information,” SCHA has failed to do so. The proposed class consists of “[a]ll citizens of Minnesota whose PHI was compromised as a result of the Data Breach with SCHA which was announced by SCHA on or about December 30, 2020.”

SCHA is a county-based health plan serving multiple counties in Minnesota, which was formed in 2001 with thousands of members. SCHA’s stated mission is to empower and engage its members to be as healthy as they can be, build connections with local agencies and providers who deliver quality services and to be an accountable partner to the counties it serves.

For more information about the case, contact Hellmuth & Johnson partner Nathan D. Prosser at (952) 746-2124.

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