St. Francis sued over info breach

January 24, 2007

Indianapolis Star

A lawsuit filed in Marion County accuses Sisters of St. Francis Health Services and its outside contractor of exposing 260,000 patients in Indiana and Illinois to the possibility of identity theft.

Greenwood resident Michael Chaney, one of the victims receiving a letter from contractor Advanced Receivables Strategy, is suing the hospital system and ARS over what his attorney claims were violations of privacy and negligence.

The breach occurred last summer, when an employee of Tennessee-based ARS mistakenly left compact discs containing patients' names and Social Security numbers in a computer bag being returned to a retail store. The patients were notified about the incident in October.

Chaney's lawyer, Scott Benkie, filed a federal lawsuit at U.S. District Court seeking class-action status, a suit that he said was voluntarily dismissed. The new suit filed Tuesday was done in Marion County Superior Court.

Chaney told the Star that he decided to sue because he felt his personal information was handled carelessly.

The suit filed Tuesday seeks damages of at least $1,000 for each affected class member. The CDs contained information on about 260,000 patients and about 6,200 employees, board members and physicians associated with St. Francis.

There's a question still as to whether people had their information breached because of the exposure.

"We've had a few people contact us who had issues with their information," Benkie said.

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