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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Firm to file suit against U

By Michael McFall

The Christensen and Jensen Law Firm plans to file a lawsuit against the U Monday demanding that the school do more to protect hospital patients whose billing records were stolen earlier this month.

The firm originally planned to file their notice two weeks ago, but it took longer to put their claim together than anticipated. The firm needed to pick patients to be representatives in the claim, chosen from hundreds of phone calls, said Scot Boyd, a lawyer for the firm.

U Hospitals and Clinics announced on June 11 that a box containing billing records for roughly 2.2 million hospital and clinic patients was stolen while in the possession of an employee of Perpetual Storage Inc., a moving company that had been contracted to move the records to a vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The courier drove home with the records instead of delivering them to the off-site vault, and the records were stolen from his car overnight.

After the claim is filed, the courts will need to approve it before it becomes an official lawsuit. The courts will likely approve the request sooner rather than later, due to the high profile nature of the case, said Karra Porter, a lawyer for the firm.

The firm has been in regular contact with the U’s legal counsel during the process and has continued to update them on the progress of their claim as a professional courtesy, Boyd said. He wouldn’t say whether the talks included any legal negotiations. ?

The firm chose 13 patients to represent the other potential victims of the records theft in the claim, as required by court rules.

However, the firm will be representing fewer patients in the claim than they anticipated. ? It was approximated that 1.3 million of the stolen records contained social security numbers, which opened up the possibility of identity theft, and led to the legal action of Christensen and Jensen.

Chris Nelson, a spokesman for U Hospitals and Clinics, said only 1.5 million unique records were stolen, about one million of which have social security numbers.

When the hospital mailed out letters to notify patients of the current situation and their options, they realized that some of the listed patients are either duplicates or deceased, Nelson said

Letters are being sent out to the revised number of patients. The letters also inform patients that the U is offering a free year of credit monitoring and fraud alert so they can take steps to protect themselves against identity theft.

The claim against the U demands that the potential victims of identity theft also receive legal counsel, as well as longer than a year of free credit monitoring.

Nelson said the U has tried to take the appropriate steps to protect its patients. ?”We just want to do what’s right for them,” he said. ?However, some patients may not receive their new notifications on Tuesday, when they’re expected to arrive in the mail, since the address in the billing records may not match their current address.

“Some of the billing addresses may be wrong, or have undeliverable addresses? or they’ve moved since then,” Nelson said.

The stolen billing records contain information on patients who have been serviced by a U hospital physician in the last 16 years.

Approximately 93,000 of the stolen billing records contain the social security numbers of minors. A letter about the information will be sent to their parent or guardian instead, since minors cannot register for the free year of credit monitoring and fraud alert the U is offering.

Sending out new letters will cost the U about $400,000. ?No patients have claimed to be victims of identity theft yet, Nelson said. If identity theft does occur, the U will reevaluate its credit monitoring proposals, he said.

The U’s legal counsel chose not to comment on the impending notice of claim until it is filed, said John Morris, general counsel for the U.

Police have not reported any new leads about the theft.

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