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Class-action lawsuit filed over breach of patient medical data

Justice SystemCrime, Law and JusticeCourts and the Judiciary

A patient whose personal information was stolen in a break-in at a medical billing contractor's office in Torrance has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and Los Angeles County.

Two Los Angeles law firms filed a complaint Friday in Superior Court. The suit was initially filed on behalf of a single patient whose name was not disclosed, but seeks class-action status.

An office of Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, which handles billing and collections for the county's Department of Health Services and Department of Public Health, was burglarized Feb. 5 and computers were stolen.

County officials said personal data of as many as 168,500 patients may have been stolen.

Sutherland notified patients of the breach last week. The complaint, filed by Los Angeles attorneys Genie Harrison and Lisa L. Maki, alleges that the company failed to encrypt the data stored on the computers.

It also alleges that Sutherland did not notify patients in a timely fashion and that the relief the company has offered to those affected is "woefully insufficient." The company set up a toll-free line for patients to call and said it would provide free credit monitoring.

The lawsuit seeks to require the company and Los Angeles County to pay for additional credit monitoring and credit repair services, identity theft insurance, home security systems and other costs for the patients whose data was taken. It also asks the court to order the county to require more stringent procedures to protect private and confidential data in future contracts.

An attorney for Sutherland could not be immediately reached for comment. County spokesman David Sommers declined to comment. 

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Twitter: @sewella

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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