Court Dismisses Class Action Suit Over UCLA Data Breach

A California appeals court has dismissed a class action suit against the University of California and UCLA Health over a 2011 data breach because the plaintiffs were unable to prove their personal health information had been improperly accessed by a third party.

In 2011, the personal health information of about 16,000 current and former UCLA Health patients was compromised when a laptop computer was stolen from a physician's home, along with an index card containing the computer's login information. In 2012, a suit was filed against the health system under the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, seeking monetary damages even though no harm had come to the plaintiffs.

The court ruled not only did UCLA Health not willfully disclose the patients' information, but also the CMIA is only applicable when an unauthorized third party accesses the information.

The California Medical Association applauded the ruling: "The decision is good news for hospitals and other healthcare providers who are victims of theft or hacking of medical information where the plaintiff cannot prove that the thief or hacker actually viewed the medical information," according to a CMA statement.

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