Milwaukee Employees File Class Action Lawsuit Over Dynacare Data Breach
By Anne Bucher
A couple from Milwaukee has filed a class action lawsuit accusing Dynacare Laboratories and Froedtert Health Inc. of failing to protect the personal information of thousands of city employees, their spouses and domestic partners.
In the putative class action lawsuit, plaintiffs Michael and Ethel Wojnar claim that their confidential personal information was compromised when a Dynacare employee’s car was stolen, along with a laptop owned by Dynacare and a flash drive that contained personal information of 9,414 Milwaukee employees, their spouses and domestic partners. The personal information that was compromised allegedly includes the names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and genders of approximately 6,000 employees. The Social Security numbers of their spouses and domestic partners were reportedly not included on the flash drive.
Dynacare is a health care company that partners with Froedtert in connection to provide a range of health services in Milwaukee. City officials have stated that the personal information of Milwaukee employees was given to Froedtert in a secure and password protected format. Dynacare is currently conducting an investigation into the incident.
The Dynacare employee’s vehicle was reported as stolen on Oct. 22 but, according to the class action lawsuit, Dynacare did not report the vehicle theft to city officials until Nov. 15. Notices have gone out to people whose personal data may have been compromised. Dynacare has reportedly been cooperating with the police investigation.
While the vehicle and laptop were recovered, the flash drive is still missing. The class action lawsuit alleges that the flash drive contains unencrypted personal information. Dynacare released a statement following the data breach indicating that no medical records, test results or financial information were included on the flash drive. The company also stated that the breach only affected Dynacare patients who received testing from Dynacare between August and October.
On Monday, Nov. 18, Dynacare sent letters to thousands of Milwaukee residents whose personal information was stored on the flash drive. Contrary to Dynacare’s assertions, some of the people who received notices say they weren’t enrolled in the city health program. A domestic partner of a city employee reported to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the letter he received from Dynacare indicated that his Social Security number was on the flash drive.
City Attorney Grant Langley has announced his intention to file a formal complaint with the federal Office of Civil Rights, alleging that Dynacare’s data breach violated federal security requirements. In a statement, Langley said he would be filing the complaint “based on Dynacare’s recent filing of a notice of breach of unsecured protected health information, its apparent unwillingness to communicate or cooperate with city representatives or to release details of its investigation, its failure to provide information to the city in order to protect our employees and misleading comments Dynacare provided to the media.”
Mayor Tom Barrett has also said he would consider taking legal action. He suggested at a press conference that Dynacare seemed more interested in deflecting blame about the data breach.
The plaintiffs are represented by Joseph D. Newbold of O’Neil Cannon Hollman DeJong & Laing.
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