Judge tosses most breach claims against DoD, Tricare
Judge tosses most breach claims against DoD, Tricare

A federal judge has dismissed the majority of claims filed against entities implicated in a 2011 breach, including the Department of Defense and Tricare.

Last Friday, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington D.C., James Boasberg, ruled (PDF) that many of the plaintiffs failed to show that the breach caused them harm.

Boasberg's decision was on the case of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2011, which stemmed from a breach impacting 4.9 million individuals, where plaintiffs initially sought $4.9 billion in damages.

Plaintiffs charged Tricare, a health insurance provider for military personnel and their families, as well as DoD and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a high-tech defense contractor, with violating individuals' privacy rights following the theft of unencrypted computer backup tapes.

Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers, in addition to health assets, such as clinical notes, lab test reports and prescription information, were on the stolen tapes. The incident impacted those who, from 1992 to Sept. 7 2011, sought care at military treatment facilities in the San Antonio, Texas, area. The stolen data belonged to Tricare, but had been entrusted to SAIC, where the tapes were stolen from an employee's car.

In October 2012, a class action complaint encompassing 33 plaintiffs across 24 states was filed – but Judge Boasberg's recent opinion revealed that only six instances of fraud had been reported as a result of the breach.

Furthermore, only two plaintiffs were able to “plausibly link either identity theft or privacy violations to the tapes' loss," new court documents said.

With only two plaintiffs' claims moving forward, Boasberg ruled that the parties should confer to determine whether an agreement can be reached regarding the next course of action.

"Since the majority of plaintiffs has been dismissed – potentially altering the scope of the remaining litigants' claims moving forward – the court will pause to confer with the parties before determining which, if any, of the complaint's twenty counts has been properly alleged," Boasberg's opinion said.