Data breach lawsuit against pediatric dental center dropped, judge cites lack of evidence

A lawsuit dealing with a January 2019 ransomware incident at Boaz, Ala.-based Sarrell Regional Dental Center for Public Health has been dismissed by a federal judge due to lack of evidence that data was misused.

The lawsuit, dismissed July 16, alleged that the more than 391,000 patients whose data was affected are facing distress and financial losses due to their personal data being in insecure hands. However, U.S. District Judge Austin Huffaker dropped the case because the plaintiffs could not prove their data had been misused.

"The fact that the breach occurred cannot, in and of itself, be enough, in the absence of any imminent or likely misuse of protected data, to provide plaintiffs with standing to sue," Mr. Huffaker wrote. "The plaintiffs fail to allege that they or members of the putative class have suffered actual identity theft. Instead, their pleading speaks of 'possibilities' and traffics in 'maybes.'"

The ransomware incident was the 15th largest health data breach reported to federal regulators in 2019, according to HHS.

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