Vets Can’t Sue Over Data Breach

Veterans whose identity information was stolen from a South Carolina veterans medical center have no standing to sue for the breaches, the Virginia-based federal appeals court ruled Monday.

In two separate cases appealed together, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the veterans’ claims were too speculative and failed to show any imminent injury.

An unencrypted laptop was stolen from the Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Columbia, SC in 2013 exposing 7,400 patients’ personal identity, including names, birth dates, last four social security numbers, physical descriptions including age, race, gender, height and weight.

An internal investigation determined that Dorn VAMC failed to follow policies and procedures for using the laptop and storing patient information.

Veterans Richard Beck and Lakreshia Jeffery filed a class action asserting violation of privacy rights and threat of identity theft.

The trial court said the fear of future identity theft was too speculative to give them standing to sue and the 4th Circuit agreed.

Judges Albert Diaz wrote the opinion, joined by Paul Niemeyer and visiting Judge Irene Keeley of the N. District of West Virginia.

Case: Beck v. McDonald, No. 15-1395


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