Horizon Blue Cross LawsuitHorizon Healthcare Services Inc., which does business as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, has been hit with a class action lawsuit in New Jersey federal court over the November 2013 theft of two unencrypted laptop computers that contained the personal information for more than 839,000 policyholders.

Plaintiffs Karen Pekeney and Mark Meisel filed the class action lawsuit on Wednesday, claiming that Horizon failed to adequately safeguard its policyholders’ sensitive personal identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI). PII includes (but is not limited to) the names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and addresses of the policyholders. PHI includes the medical history, demographic information, insurance information and other data collected by health care professionals.

According to the class action lawsuit, two unencrypted laptop computers were stolen from Horizon’s headquarters in Newark, N.J. in November 2013. In December, the plaintiffs received letters informing them that their PII and PHI may have been contained on the stolen laptops. Horizon’s website reported that more than 839,000 members were sent letters regarding the data breach.

The plaintiffs allege that this data breach was preventable. The class action lawsuit refers to a similar theft that took place in January 2008. At that time, a laptop containing the PII of approximately 300,000 members was stolen from a Horizon employee’s residence. Subsequently, government officials began an investigation into Horizon’s data protection practices. In response, Horizon claimed that it had begun encrypting all laptops, desktops and portable media devices and anticipated that this process would be complete in March 2008.

“Because of the 2008 laptop theft and ensuing public concern, Defendant assuredly knew the risks involved in maintaining sensitive member PII and PHI on unencrypted laptops and indeed publicly stated it would change its practices; nonetheless, Defendant continued to store such sensitive material in an unsafe manner,” the class action lawsuit says.

According to the class action lawsuit, the stolen laptops had only been “cable-locked” to employee workstations, which the plaintiffs allege are “easily defeated” with office supplies and other common items. Although the stolen laptops were reportedly password-protected, they were unencrypted. The plaintiffs argue that encryption is the only effective way to protect sensitive data.

The plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all other individuals who enrolled in Horizon’s health insurance plans on or before Nov. 3, 2013 and whose data was compromised by the laptop theft. They accuse Horzion of negligence, breach of contract, and violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

The plaintiffs are represented by William J. Pinilis, Robert N. Kaplan, David A. Straite and Lauren I. Dubick of Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP.

The Horizon Blue Cross Data Breach Class Action Lawsuit is Karen Pekelney, et al. v. Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., Case No. 2:14-cv-00548, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

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Please note: Top Class Actions is not a settlement administrator or law firm. Top Class Actions is a legal news source that reports on class action lawsuits, class action settlements, drug injury lawsuits and product liability lawsuits. Top Class Actions does not process claims and we cannot advise you on the status of any class action settlement claim. You must contact the settlement administrator or your attorney for any updates regarding your claim status, claim form or questions about when payments are expected to be mailed out.

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4 Comments

  • Zee Brito February 3, 2014

    I was involved. How can I file a claim?

  • Valerie Shupp February 4, 2014

    ditto how do i file a claim also? isn’t it against the hippa laws, why were 2 unsecured laptops allowed to leave the building who else is taking our personal information out in public with them and what are they doing with it.
    it’s time companies start stepping up in taking responsibility with our vital information not offering a free year protection service, so what after a year i have to get an extra expense for the rest of my life to protect my identity that was suppose to be protected to begin with.

  • Janet McMahill February 5, 2014

    How do I get information on signing up

  • Erika Hout for Marc Ziems March 13, 2014

    My Father, Marc Ziems, who I as his daughter is on his account to receive and provide assistance as we had signed a waiver. He has a health care policy with HorizonDuring the 2013, my father was double charged for his deductible throughout the entire year for supplies he needed. While paying a bill at our local A1 Home Health Care Services(515-955-8500), in Fort Dodge, Iowa, when employee Anita, noticed these additional charged and instructed my me not to pay them as they were suspicious. Please contact me at 1-515-570-8350 to instruct me what my next step is as far as filing a claim and more information about the additional charges. I have all his information available but will not provide it via email in case of a scam.
    I sincerely will appreciate your call.
    Erika Hout
    515-570-8358
    1211 28TH Avenue North
    Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501

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