VA seeks dismissal of data breach lawsuit

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last week motioned to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it following a data breach made public in April by the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA medical center in Columbia, S.C., HealthITSecurity reported.

Personal information for nearly 7,400 veterans was put at risk when a laptop was stolen from the facility in February. Shortly after those impacted were notified, two veterans--Richard Beck and Lakreshia Jeffrey--sued the organization, claiming that VA officials failed to implement "basic computer safeguards."

The VA wants to dismiss on grounds that there has been a "failure to prove" the records disclosed improperly handled, claiming the plaintiffs didn't argue the data was actually shown to another person. The laptop contained names, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers.

MainJustice reported that the motion argued the vets haven't experienced any harm, and don't have the standing to bring up the suit in federal court.

Laptop theft continues to be a major IT security threat. In April, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services announced that a laptop containing protected health information for 652 of its clients had been stolen and then recovered within a 10-day span in Gig Harbor, Wash. One month earlier, officials at the University of Mississippi Medical Center announced that a shared password-protected laptop went missing.

In January, officials at Heyman HospiceCare at Floyd in Rome, Ga., were made aware that a password-protected laptop went missing from an employee's car. In an announcement in February, officials said that the information on the laptop was not encrypted, but was "protected by additional security software that would make it difficult for the average person to access any information."

To learn more:
- read the HealthITSecurity article

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