CHS set to settle suit following data breach

February 6, 2019 GMT

Notices are landing in local mailboxes this week, informing past and present Lutheran Health Network patients that they might have some money coming.

Community Health Systems, Lutheran’s parent company, also owns Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp. It was the latter organization that in 2014 reported a data breach that affected an estimated 4.5 million people whose personal information was on file with a Lutheran-related physician practice or clinic.

In its filing with the Security and Exchange Commission five years ago, the company said names, birth dates and Social Security numbers were stolen : possibly by cyber criminals in China. The data also included some addresses and phone numbers.

The Franklin, Tennessee-based health care provider has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all those whose personal information was compromised. Anyone who receives the postcard-sized mailing was likely affected.

A judge still must sign off on the settlement deal. A company spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday. The Minnesota attorney representing the class couldn’t be reached.

Only those who file a claim will be eligible to receive payment. A mail-in form accompanies the notice and an online form is also available. The deadline for returning a completed form is Aug. 1.

Two types of payments are being offered. Victims of the information breach can be reimbursed up to $250 for out-of-pocket expenses and documented time off work as a result of dealing with the data breach.

Victims of actual identity fraud can be reimbursed up to $5,000 for out-of-pocket losses directly related to what the company refers to as the “security incident.”

Despite reaching the settlement, Community Health Systems Professional Services “denies all of the claims and says it did not do anything wrong,” according to the mailing.

Anyone who can show they deserve to receive more than the negotiated amount can opt out of the settlement until May 18 by filing a different form. They would have to file a separate lawsuit to pursue payment.

To receive either form, go to www.CHSPSCsettlement.com or call 877-393-1072.

Anyone who doesn’t respond in some way will lose their right to sue and receive nothing.