Patients of Community Health Systems filed a Complaint initiating a class action in the Northern District of Alabama against the hospital system on August 20, 2014. The class action arises out of the breach of an estimated 4.5 million patients’ protected data. Plaintiffs allege claims typical to those in other data breach cases, including breach of contract, negligence, and unjust enrichment. However, Plaintiffs additionally assert claims for willful and negligent violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, alleging that Community Health Systems is a consumer reporting agency covered by the FCRA. Courts have yet to address the viability of claims against healthcare institutions under the FCRA, as only a handful of data breach complaints have actually stated claims for damages under the Act.
If the Court allows Plaintiffs’ claims under the FCRA to stand in this action, healthcare providers will face significantly greater statutory damages in the event of a data breach.