News

April 6, 2015

Questions about Premera IT Department Pre-Date Breach

Even before the private information of more than 11 million Premera Blue Cross customers was compromised by hacked servers, the health insurers’ information technology [IT] department was in turmoil.

PCVA has learned that in June, 2011, Primera had to pay a class action settlement of $1.45 million dollars after a group of its current and former IT employees sued over the company’s illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and other benefits in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA.

Premera, and its subsidiaries LifeWise Health Plan of Oregon and LifeWise Assurances Co., employs hundreds of technical support workers nationwide.

Premera’s past practices within its IT department will be one of the focuses of the lawsuit filed by PCVA in the wake of the personal data breach of its insurance customers.

Premera officials were silent for over a month-and-a-half as it customers’ personal identifiers – including names, credit card information, bank account numbers and social security numbers – were exposed to hackers.

There are state and federal laws that require businesses to notify customers immediately after an online data breach like the one Primera discovered in January.

The Mountlake Terrace-based health insurer apparently ignored state and federal auditors’ recommendations that it update its software and internet security after finding that it was particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks and malware breaches.

The confidential information breach lawsuit filed Primera was filed on March 23, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Seattle, by PCVA attorney Darrell Cochran, (Hoirup et al v. Premera Blue Cross; 2:15-cv-00445-MJP).

PCVA is a Pacific Northwest trial law firm with offices in Seattle and Tacoma.  If you are interested in finding out more about the lawsuit or PCVA, please visit premeralawsuit.com.

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