Patients File Lawsuit Against Alabama Health System Following Ransomware Attack

By Cindy Amedee
Partner, Taylor Porter
cindy.amedee@taylorporter.com
225.381.0279

Former patients of an Alabama health system are suing the health system alleging that they sustained damages as a result of a ransomware attack on the system’s computer infrastructure. The patients allege that the health system failed to adequately protect its computer system against cyberattacks, despite the fact that such attacks were known risks to the health system. The affected patients, approximately 32,000 of them, are seeking class action status.

The December 23, 2019 complaint filed in federal court alleges that the hackers held hostage the patients’ sensitive private information and ultimately disclosed it to “unknown thieves.”  It further alleges a disruption in medical care, causing the loss of x-rays and preventing at least one patient from getting the pain medication she needed following surgery because her electronic chart was not available during the attack.

The patients claim the health system is liable to them for, among other things, negligence, invasion of privacy, breach of contract and implied contract, and breach of fiduciary duty.  They seek injunctions and monetary damages, including, but not limited to, payment for credit monitoring fees for three years and punitive damages.

This is not the first lawsuit resulting from a ransomware attack against a health care provider or vendor.  A class action lawsuit was filed in January 2018 against AllScripts, an electronic health records company, following a ransomware attack it experienced.

But health care companies are not the only vulnerable industry. Experts say all computer systems, no matter the industry, are vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Radio giants, cities, private companies, and public schools have fallen victim.

Now is the time to ensure your computer system is as protected as possible, thereby minimizing the risk of ransomware attacks and resulting lawsuits.

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