*Clarification* We have an important clarification regarding those class members who choose to object to the proposed Premera settlement. If you object to the settlement, you would give up your right to sue Premera. However, you would still receive all benefits to which you may be entitled that are offered to all other class members who chose not to object. We apologize for the lack of clarity in our previous email.
We write to remind you of upcoming deadlines in the settlement process for this case, specifically the deadlines for objecting to or opting-out of the settlement. The deadline for both objecting to or opting-out of the settlement is this Wednesday, January 29.
As a reminder, if you object to the settlement, you would give up your right to sue Premera and receive any benefits for which you may be eligible under any settlement approved in this class action. However, you would also raise concerns about the terms of this particular settlement before the Court for approval, such as inadequacy of compensation or benefits, the amount Class Counsel is requesting to be paid from the settlement, or any other term you find objectionable that the Court would consider in determining whether to disapprove the settlement currently before it for approval. One possible outcome might be that objections could convince the Court to reject this settlement and essentially send Premera and the attorneys “back to the drawing board” either to negotiate a new settlement or proceed toward trial in the case.
As we have stated in previous updates, we are not the attorneys who negotiated and are “in charge” of this settlement; that is a group of attorneys and law firms appointed by the Court as “Class Counsel.” In full disclosure, we have written to “Class Counsel” regarding certain concerns we have had regarding the adequacy of compensation, credit monitoring, and identity theft protection provided to class members under the settlement, as well as concerns about how this settlement was negotiated in relative secrecy without the input of the “class representatives” (data breach victims who are named plaintiffs in this lawsuit and whose role is to protect the interests of everyone affected by the data breach and ensure the settlement is fair to everyone as a whole); other class members such as yourself; or attorneys like ourselves, who represent and communicate regularly with over 2,000 Premera data breach victims on topics such as what relief they seek to obtain out of this class action lawsuit. In general, we likened this settlement to the Equifax settlement, which led class members to believe they would receive cash payments of a certain amount, when in reality they likely would receive far less. We also questioned the sufficiency of the few years of additional credit monitoring this settlement provides, particularly where many victims of this data breach are children whose personal information has been exposed to the threat of misuse for the remainder of their lifetimes.
Additionally, Class Counsel intends to request the Court pay them up to $14,120,077.83 million out of the $32 million settlement fund for attorney fees and costs. Although the settlement notice to class members, as well as the settlement website, represent that Class Counsel’s motion for fees and costs (that is, a court filing where those attorneys explain to the Court why they are justified in requesting such a large amount as payment) will be posted to settlement website so that class members may easily review it free of charge, it does not appear that Class Counsel has posted that document to the settlement website yet, a day before the objection deadline. This raises concerns that class members will not be provided with that information in time to meaningfully review it and reach a fully informed decision as to whether to object or opt-out of the settlement because they believe Class Counsel’s requested fee and cost award is not justified.
We have linked our correspondence to Class Counsel about our concerns regarding the settlement (click here). In the interests of fairness, we have also attached Class Counsel’s response (click here). You may judge for yourself whether their response alleviates any concerns you may have or resolves any objections you may want to make.
If you wish to object to the settlement, you must follow the following steps:
“If you are a Class Member, you can tell the Court that you do not agree with all or any part of the Settlement or requested attorneys’ fees and expenses. You can also give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement or attorneys’ fees and expenses. To object, you must mail a letter stating that you object to the Settlement in In re Premera Blue Cross Customer Data Security Incident Litigation, Case No. 3:15-md-2633-SI. Be sure to include:
- Your full name, current mailing address, and telephone number;
- A signed statement that you believe you are a member of the Settlement Class;
- The specific reasons for which you are objecting to the Settlement;
- All documents or writings that you wish the Court to consider; and
- A statement indicating whether you or your attorney intends to appear at the Final Fairness Hearing.
Mail your objection to the addresses listed below, postmarked by January 29, 2020:
|Clerk of the Court
United States District Court
District of Oregon
1000 S.W. Third Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
|Premera Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 3607
Portland, OR 97208-3607
If you wish to discuss potential objections to the settlement or explore assistance in preparing an objection, please contact us immediately. Again, all objections must be postmarked by this Wednesday, January 29.
If you opt-out of the settlement, you will not be a part of this class action and will not receive any benefits to which you may be entitled under any settlement approved by the Court. However, you would preserve your right to sue Premera on your own. The pros to choosing this option are that it is possible you may achieve a better recovery than if you participate in the class action settlement. The drawbacks are that you will have to find attorneys to represent you; you may potentially recover nothing; and you likely will have to commit to at minimum hours of your own time actively participating in your own lawsuit, such as answering written questions producing relevant documents relevant to your legal claims and the harms you have suffered, as well as testifying under oath at a deposition or trial. Additionally, because you would not be pursuing such a lawsuit on a class action basis, you could be exposed to paying Premera’s court costs should Premera win. Additionally, it is an undertaking that likely will take months, at minimum, of additional litigation.
If you wish to opt-out of the settlement, you must follow the steps outlined at FAQ 26 on Class Counsel’s settlement website, located here. As discussed in Class Counsel’s FAQ, opt-out requests must be physically signed and submitted either through the settlement website or physically mailed. Physically mailed opt-out requests must be postmarked no later than this Wednesday, January 29.
We are writing to provide you with an update regarding this case. The Court has granted preliminary approval to the settlement reached in this case and authorized issuance of notice of the settlement to victims of the data breach. You should soon be receiving (or may already have received) notice of the settlement via email and postal mail. The notice will very generally explain the choices and benefits potentially available to you under the settlement’s terms, as well as procedures and deadlines for claiming those benefits. The three options and deadlines most important to you are:
- Claim benefits under the settlement: by choosing this option, you would claim whatever relief is available to you under the settlement in exchange for giving up any further right to sue Premera regarding the data breach. The claims deadline is March 30, 2020.
- Object to the settlement: by choosing this option, you would still receive any benefits for which you may be eligible under the settlement, but you would also file complaints or concerns you have regarding the settlement (“objections”) to be considered by the Court when it decides whether to grant final approval to the settlement or reject the settlement and resume the lawsuit. Should the Court receive a large number of objections, it may choose to reject the settlement. The deadline for filing objections with the Court is January 29, 2020.
- Opt out of the settlement: by choosing this option, you would not receive any of the benefits for which you may be eligible under the settlement, but you would keep the ability to sue Premera regarding the data breach in a separate lawsuit. The deadline for opting out of the settlement is January 29, 2020.
We also want to provide you with information about the settlement approved by the Court. The settlement was negotiated by a group of attorneys that did not include this law firm and, to the best of our knowledge, without any input from class representatives (data breach victims who essentially stand-in for the interests of all data breach victims in the lawsuit). We have raised our concerns with those attorneys responsible for the settlement, and based on their response, we continue to closely scrutinize the settlement’s terms, particularly the quality and amount of benefits and compensation potentially available to class members.
Although we completely respect any data breach victim’s ultimate decision to claim benefits without objection, as that may or may not be the best option for your personal circumstances, we strongly urge you to utilize the full amount of time available to you under the settlement deadlines to strongly consider the settlement’s terms; wait for any further information about the settlement that may become available; and reach an informed decision regarding whether accepting the settlement without objection, accepting but objecting, or opting out is in your best interest.
In the meantime, the Court has appointed those other attorneys as “Class Counsel” for purposes of the settlement, meaning it is those attorneys who will be responsible for assisting you in the settlement process. The settlement notice sent to you will provide contact information to receive that assistance from Class Counsel. We urge you to raise any questions or concerns you have regarding the settlement or its terms with those attorneys and, if you still have concerns, seek an independent assessment from us or other attorneys of your choosing. We also will provide you with any updates or information we receive and are able to share regarding any concerns over the settlement.
We are writing to update you regarding developments in this case. A potential settlement has been reached with Premera regarding data breach claims of all victims. The potential settlement has been presented to the Court for “preliminary approval.” If the Court grants preliminary approval, it will then authorize official notice of the settlement to go out to all data breach victims and begin a process where victims may evaluate the settlement and choose whether to participate in it without objection, participate in it with objection, or opt out of the settlement and pursue their own lawsuit.
There is nothing you need to do until the Court grants approval to a settlement. We will notify you if and when the Court grants preliminary approval to the settlement, as well as next steps. And we thank you again for the privilege of representing you in this matter.
We are writing to inform you of the latest updates in and status of this case. Recently, the Court granted our motion for sanctions (penalties) against Premera.
Throughout the lawsuit, Premera has claimed that no evidence exists that hackers actually removed Premera insureds’ private information from Premera’s computers. However, over the course of discovery, it was revealed that 35 of Premera’s computers were involved in the data breach and were required to be preserved for our examination during this litigation. However, Premera destroyed one of the 35 computers before it was examined by us. The destroyed computer was the only one of the 35 computers that contained a malware program that allowed hackers to manipulate and upload and download files. Premera’s own cybersecurity consultant hired to investigate the data breach found that this one computer had hundreds of communications with an outside website during the data breach. Discovery also revealed that Premera had destroyed certain “log” files recording activity, including certain data traffic such as emails, on its computer networks.
The Court found that Premera offered no good excuse for the computer’s or log files’ destruction. It ruled that, at trial, we may inform the jury of Premera’s destruction of the computer and log files, we may explain to the jury the evidence they may have contained, and we may argue to the jury that it can infer they contained that evidence and other implications from Premera’s destruction of evidence. The Court also ruled that Premera’s expert witnesses are prohibited from testifying that the computer and log files did not contain evidence that your private information was removed from Premera’s systems.
These rulings are a significant victory for our case. As discussed above, Premera has taken the position throughout the lawsuit that there was no “smoking gun” evidence that the hackers, even though they indisputably and extensively had infiltrated Premera’s systems for momths, had actually removed any information from Premera’s systems. Now, we are able to inform the jury that we identified what the “smoking gun” evidence was, where it was located in Premera’s computer systems, and that Premera destroyed the evidence before we could obtain it.
Finally, as we have informed you in previous updates, we are still awaiting the Court’s ruling on our motion for class certification (that is, whether the lawsuit will proceed on behalf of everyone victimized by the data breach or must proceed in individual lawsuits). Once the Court decides this critical milestone of the case, the parties will be in a better position to resolve the lawsuit through settlement or trial.
We will inform you of the Court’s decision on the motion and any further developments in the case. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
We are writing you to provide you with updates on the latest developments in this case. On August 24, 2018, Premera filed a “motion for partial summary judgment” asking the Court to dismiss one (but not all) of our legal claims. Motions such as this are normal in the later stages of cases like this, as defendants attempt to narrow the number of claims to be heard by a jury or, sometimes, as a prelude to begin settlement discussions.
Also in late August, Plaintiffs filed a motion for sanctions against Premera due to its conduct during the ongoing “discovery” phase of the case in which we have been uncovering evidence of Premera’s wrongdoing.
We cannot provide any further details regarding either of these motions, as they include information protected by a court order and cannot be discussed outside of the court proceedings.
Finally, as we informed you in our last update, the court will hold a class certification hearing on November 15. The class certification hearing will be a major milestone in the case, and the case may be positioned to resolve more quickly depending on the Court’s ruling. We will update you as soon as the Court issues its decision on this motion and the other important motions, which may take several months. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We are writing you to provide you with updates on the latest developments in this case. On July 6, 2018, as jointly requested by plaintiffs and Premera, the Court entered an order setting the date for the class certification hearing in this case for November 15, 2018. The class certification hearing will determine whether the case will move forward on a class basis (where everyone’s claims are determined in the lawsuit) or an individual basis (where only the named plaintiffs’ claims are determined).
The class certification hearing will be a major milestone in the case, and the case may be positioned to resolve more quickly depending on the Court’s ruling. We will update you as soon as the Court issues its decision, which may take several months. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We are writing to update you about the status of this case. Earlier this year, a new case schedule setting the class certification deadline for October of this year. Fact discovery now ends in December. A three-week trial is set to begin on October 21, 2019.
The reason for the new case schedule and trial date is that in late October 2017, the Court ruled that Premera had been wrongfully withholding critical documents late into the original case schedule, including an original trial date scheduled for the beginning of this year. Because the Court ruled that Premera had to produce these documents, this necessitated allowing the plaintiffs another round of discovery to ask Premera to answer written questions and provide testimony under oath, as the plaintiffs now have a much more complete picture of what Premera knew and when, and Premera has to be questioned on this newly-revealed, highly-relevant information.
The reason for the other dates, including the trial date, is to allow the parties to conduct expert witness discovery (the discovery that has been taking place so far has been fact discovery; the expert witnesses then have to take those facts to write their reports and then be questioned regarding those reports), which then gives the parties a complete “portrait” of the evidence heading into seeking class certification, filing evidentiary-based dispositive motions (either Premera’s motions to knock out some of our claims or our motions to knock out some of their defenses), and trial.
This month, in advance of the depositions of representatives from the cybersecurity firms Premera hired to investigate and report on the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the data breach, the parties went back before the Court regarding Premera’s continued withholding of documents and information. The Court held that Premera cannot conceal the facts uncovered by its own investigators about the breach and must turn over this treasure trove of information to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. Once this information is received, these critical depositions can and will move forward.
In the meantime, every effort will be maintained to fully bring to light the extent of Premera’s wrongdoing and hopefully drive this case toward an earlier resolution. Last summer, a class action lawsuit against Anthem (another insurer) for a data breach settled for $115 million, including the provision of an additional two years of paid credit monitoring to victims and the establishment of a fund to pay the costs and expenses of data breach victims who subsequently had experienced identity theft issues. The Anthem settlement provides an excellent roadmap for Premera similarly to do right by the victims of its own data breach, although Premera has been extremely resistant to do so to date.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.
We’re writing to provide you with an update regarding the status of the Premera data breach case. The court overseeing this case has selected a number of law firms to work together as “lead counsel” to represent the millions of individuals harmed by Premera. These law firms guide the progress of the lawsuit, and control all aspects of the case. Lead counsel law firms do not provide regular updates unless demanded by us as we seek to ensure that the best interests of thousands of our clients such as yourself are being protected and advanced. Should this case proceed to trial, our law firm has been selected by the other lead counsel law firms to serve as trial counsel – in other words, we will be responsible for preparing the case and presenting it to a jury.
Currently, this lawsuit is in the ‘discovery’ phase, a state where both plaintiff and defendant demand and receive evidence they believe necessary to their legal argument. We understand lead council has begun deposing (i.e., answering questions in-person and under oath) Premera’s IT staff – an important step in getting answers on how and why this loss occurred. Also we have learned that all the named plaintiffs in this case are being deposed by Premera’s attorneys. The run up to this testimony has been intense, mainly because we want to make 100% sure that both the court and the defense understand the depth of the damage that this particular data loss has had on our plaintiffs and their loved ones. Contrary to Premera’s assertions, there have been very serious consequences to result from the loss of enrollee data, including embarrassing and potentially dangerous medical records released into the public eye, economic and emotional damage caused by identity theft, grave national security implications facing military members, etc. And as much as we would prefer discussing a path forward to a resolution, Premera has been hesitant to engage this option. As you may be aware, Anthem Healthcare suffered a similar data breach to Premera, but their loss – and subsequent lawsuit – occurred first. Because Anthem recently settled their class action lawsuit for $115 million, Premera may now be more amenable to a negotiated settlement, as opposed to taking the case to trial. If this is indeed the outcome, then we will update you with this new information as soon as it becomes available.
We will continue to defend your best interests in this lawsuit and demand that they be vigorously pursued, strive to keep you (and ourselves) informed of the case’s progress to the maximum extent permitted by lead counsel, and relay any concerns you have about the case’s progress. The earlier announcement of the Equifax data breach (that we are also investigating as a potential lawsuit) underscores the vital importance of forcing billion-dollar companies to take seriously the immense responsibility of safeguarding your incredibly sensitive personal information.
Judge Michael H. Simon, the federal district court judge from Oregon assigned to the Premera Customer Data Security Breach case, issued a very good order for our claims today that preserves most of the important claims in our class action case. This ruling today resolves the second comprehensive motion effort by Premera to dismiss all claims in the case, and paves the way now for a vigorous prosecution of the claims we have asserted to restore some level of fairness, security and recompense for what you have experienced.
The ruling is 45 pages long and provides a comprehensive analysis of how the Court viewed each of the claims that have been asserted on your behalf so we will take a few days to digest it all and provide a more detailed report on the claims that have survived this latest attempt by Premera to avoid accountability for its manifest failures that lead to this breach of your private information.
We appreciate that opportunity to represent you and look forward to working as efficiently as possible to resolve this matter for you.
As always, please continue to update us with information that illustrates that harms you have suffered. We make a point of sharing all that we can with the Court to ensure that he understands the impact on your lives.
We are writing to provide you the latest update in this case. As you know, we have been waiting for months for federal Judge Simon to issue a ruling regarding Premera’s motion to dismiss the case on purely legal grounds. We are pleased to report that the case will proceed. On August 1, Judge Simon allowed the central claims in this case to proceed outright. He also recognized the legal merit of other claims and requested that the plaintiffs’ attorneys file an amended complaint clarifying the allegations supporting those claims where possible.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys will now draft and file an amended complaint with the clarifications requested by Judge Simon. After the amended complaint is filed, Premera likely will file another motion to dismiss to test the legal sufficiency of the clarifications. The suit could likely extend out 12-24 months or longer, as Premera likely will use such legal motions to attempt to limit its liability and push out any settlement or payments to claimants as much as possible. In the meantime, discovery (the process where we and Premera exchange documents supporting the claims and defenses in the case) will continue. As part of this process, we may request documents or information from you from time to time that is vital to the case. Meanwhile, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Darrell Cochran and the Premera Lawsuit Team
We hope this case update finds you well. On February 24, 2016, the Oregon federal court to which this case has been assigned heard Premera’s motion to dismiss the case. We have been waiting to update you in hopes of providing Judge Simon’s decision regarding the motion—he stated at the hearing that he hoped to issue a decision within 60 days—but he has not issued his decision to date. In the meantime, we can share with you that Judge Simon had a clear and cogent grasp of your claims in this case, especially the severity and gravity of the harms to which you have been exposed by Premera’s wrongdoing. For example, Premera’s attorneys contended that your protected medical information exposed by the data breach had no monetary value compensable by a lawsuit. Both we and Judge Simon countered that pharmaceutical and other medical industry companies purchase such information all the time for marketing, research, and other purposes.
Overall, Judge Simon appeared to signal strongly to Premera that this lawsuit is not going to go away without a day of reckoning. We will update you as soon as we receive Judge Simon’s decision. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any related questions or concerns. We thank you again for the privilege of representing you.
-Darrell Cochran and the Premera Lawsuit Team
We hope the new year and this message finds you well. We wanted to share a case update and also provide some information you might find useful regarding credit monitoring.
As we have shared with you in previous updates, Premera filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on legal grounds. On December 30, in a coordinated effort between the law firms involved in this litigation, the opposition to the motion to dismiss was filed. We feel highly confident that the Oregon federal court will deny the motion and the lawsuit will proceed. The Oregon federal court will hear oral argument on the motion to dismiss on February 24, 2016.
Regarding credit monitoring provided by Premera through Experian, the deadline for registering for the two years of credit monitoring offered by Premera expired on September 30, 2015, per Premera’s materials. Several of you have confirmed that Experian, the company behind ProtectMyID, has been rejecting and continues to reject applicants for the program after the deadline. Many of you have rightfully questioned how a mere two years of credit monitoring could even begin to mitigate the lifetime of harm to which Premera’s negligence has exposed you. The relatively short period for applying for even this woefully inadequate “peace offering” is another issue for which we hope to hold Premera accountable in this lawsuit.
Next, we have shared information in previous updates regarding proactive measures you can take to protect yourself from misuse of your stolen personal information, but we wanted to reiterate some of that information with you in the new year. Two of the most powerful tools available to help prevent or halt misuse of your information are security freezes and fraud alerts.
A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors or insurance companies. You, too, will not be able to open new credit while a freeze is in place. Individuals can request that a freeze be temporarily lifted for the purpose of obtaining new credit. Security freezes are particularly useful in preventing or halting any misuse of the identity of any vulnerable adults or deceased relatives in your family. Security freezes are also useful for halting any misuse of your minor children’s’ identities. Please note, however, that credit agencies cannot create a credit freeze for your minor child if no credit file exists for the child because no file should exist, period; if one does exist, it is only because of fraud.
A fraud alert is a less restrictive option and may help prevent fraud. An alert does not block potential new credit, but places a comment on your history. Creditors should contact you prior to opening a new account.
You can learn more about security freezes and fraud alerts, the sort of protection they do and do not offer, and how to obtain them at http://www.atg.wa.gov/credit-freeze-fraud-alerts. Please note that, although there are methods of obtaining free security freezes and fraud alerts, you should keep records of any time and costs incurred (including fees, if you have to pay them) in taking these measures. These are injuries to you potentially recoverable from Premera in the lawsuit.
As always, we thank you for the privilege of representing you in this matter. If you have any questions or concerns related to the lawsuit, do not hesitate to contact us.
-Darrell Cochran and the Premera Lawsuit Team
We hope this finds you well in this Thanksgiving season. We are writing to you to give you the latest updates in this case. First, Premera is preparing a motion to dismiss the case based on the allegations made in the complaint. This motion comes as no surprise to us, as we have mentioned in previous updates our anticipation that Premera would argue to the court that the potential for identity theft, fraud, and other harms to which Premera exposed you is too speculative or insufficiently “imminent” to form the basis of a legal claim.
This is why we asked you to report any signs of identity theft or fraud to us in order to inform the court that the harms you are suffering as a result of Premera’s negligence are all too real; that more and more of you are experiencing these harms every day; and that the risk to everyone is a matter of “soon,” not “if.” Due to your excellent responsiveness in providing the requested information, we are highly confident that the judge will deny the motion, and we thank you again for your invaluable efforts and assistance.
Second, the court has “stayed” (put on hold) discovery (the process where Premera provides answers under penalty of perjury to written questions submitted by the attorneys, witnesses answer questions from attorneys using live testimony under oath, and Premera provides documents requested by the attorneys) until resolution of the motion to dismiss.
We are as eager as you are for Premera to provide answers to the hard questions regarding how it could allow this catastrophe to happen to you, but such stays are common. In cases of this magnitude, discovery is a very expensive, contentious process often requiring court intervention, and the court would rather pause that process until determining whether the legal claims in this case can proceed.
As always, if we can assist you in this matter, do not hesitate to contact us.
-Darrell Cochran and the Premera Lawsuit Team
Many of you have expressed great concern that the personal information of your children exposed during this breach might be misused by identity thieves. Unfortunately, we can confirm that those fears are well-founded. The IRS has been rejecting tax returns filed by parents claiming children as dependents because identity thieves have already used the dependent child’s SSN and other information to file a return for that tax year. If you have a child whose information was exposed during the Premera data breach, you may want to contact the IRS and determine whether any fraudulent filings have been made using your child’s identity. If this has already happened to you, please report the details to us as soon as possible. These stories are important to share with the court so that the judge understands that the risk to which Premera has exposed your children is not just theoretical, it is real and widespread.
We also wanted to thank you again for the privilege of representing you and give you the latest updates in the Premera lawsuit. As we mentioned in earlier updates, all the lawsuits against Premera were transferred to an Oregon federal court for management and coordination by a single judge, Judge Michael H. Simon. Last month, Judge Simon entered a case scheduling order that contains the deadlines for the key events in this litigation. You may view the Case Scheduling Order here.
The soonest upcoming deadline is October 6, the deadline for filing a Consolidated Master Complaint in the case. Essentially, the Consolidated Master Complaint will compile all the various legal claims brought against Premera into one document with named plaintiffs whose stories are prime examples of the harms suffered by everyone as a result of Premera’s gross disregard for protecting its customers’ personal information. We have been hard at work sifting through the stories you have been willing to share with us and analyzing the information you have provided in order to provide Judge Simon with the most comprehensive, compelling portrait of Premera’s wrongdoing and its consequences to you.
We wanted to provide you an update on recent, significant developments in this case. As you may remember from previous updates, the federal court system transferred all the lawsuits filed against Premera and its affiliated companies to the Oregon federal district court. The Oregon court has taken some time to seek input from the litigants regarding how the case should proceed. One of the issues before the court was the role each law firm involved in this case should play moving forward.
Each firm could have asked the district court to allow it sole responsibility for the litigation against Premera, shutting everyone else out in the process. However, based on our experience in these large class action cases, such an approach would not have provided the best opportunity to maximize your chances of recovery. With multiple law firms dividing up the work and responsibilities in this case, it allows us to combine our resources, eliminate duplicative work, bring our focus to bear in our respective areas of expertise, and move the case forward in an effective and efficient manner. In our opinion, such cooperation is especially necessary in a case like this, where Premera has hired two gigantic, nationally-based defense firms, including one that has had multiple successes in getting courts to throw out previous data breach lawsuits.
To that end, we agreed to “team up” with several law firms whose level of experience and respect compares to our own. Last week, the Oregon district court approved our team’s proposal for moving the case forward. As part of this plan, PCVA won the critical role of lead trial counsel. Essentially, that means that PCVA will be responsible for taking all litigation actions necessary to prepare this case for trial and to try the case in court, if necessary. PCVA won this role based in large part on attorney Darrell Cochran’s extensive, winning experience with taking these class actions to trial—including a jury verdict for over $95 million, the largest in Washington’s history, for over 22,000 class members—and his recent recognition as the 2015 Washington Association for Justice’s Trial Lawyer of the Year, the most prestigious award for plaintiff’s attorneys in this state.
We also wanted to thank you again for the privilege of representing you, as PCVA also won this role as lead trial counsel out of recognition that thousands of you trusted us enough to represent you in this case. Because we represent so many of you, and because many of you have been gracious enough to share details of the harms you have suffered as a result of this data breach, we have also won another critical role: assisting in selecting class representatives. Basically, courts have thrown out previous data breach lawsuits because defendants successfully convinced the courts that data breach victims could only prove that they might be harmed by the misuse of their stolen information, and that those possible harms were too speculative to allow the cases to proceed. As we know from speaking with you or reading your messages, that idea is offensive: all too many of you have suffered disastrously real fraud or misuse of your stolen information after this data breach, a fact that demonstrates that the risk of similar harm to everyone affected by this data breach is not “speculative”—it is likely just a matter of time. To that end, we may be contacting some of you to gather more information, if you are willing, to help select individual clients whose experiences in this case are representative of the class as a whole. The goal is to present the federal district court with a few of your stories to make the court understand that this data breach has had disastrous consequences for so many of you; that the data breach presents a very real risk to everyone, based on the amount of fraud and other misuse of stolen information that has already occurred; and, most importantly, Premera deserves to pay for all the harm that its negligence and indifference has caused to you.
We look forward to continuing to represent you and taking a lead role in holding Premera accountable for its actions.
Thank you for your interest, concerns, and involvement in the Premera Data Breach class action lawsuit. Our goal as your law firm is to keep you up to date as often as is reasonable. Cases such as this can take 2-5 years to resolve and as a class member we know you’ll have an ongoing interest. To that end, we hope to communicate with you at least quarterly, or as specific actions develop.
Recently, on June 16, 2015, the federal Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation entered an order transferring this class action lawsuit, along with other data breach cases filed against Premera, to Judge Michael H. Simon in the federal District of Oregon, located in Portland. The Panel’s order supported the transfer to Oregon with the usual reasons that Portland is a “convenient and accessible forum” for the Premera cases, which have been filed in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska; and the Oregon federal court and Judge Simon are well-equipped to efficiently manage the cases. We feel that concerns over Washington judges being personally involved in the action may have prompted the choice of Oregon over Washington.
Regardless of where the case is heard, one important fact remains unchanged: Premera wrongfully and unlawfully exposed millions of people to a lifetime’s worth of fraud and identity theft, and it deserves to pay for ignoring the warning signs and disregarding the security of its customers. The venue should not have any effect on the recognition of this plain, undeniable truth.
After the transfer is completed and the Oregon court allows this lawsuit to proceed, we look forward to pressing ahead as this case begins in earnest. In the meantime, we will be travelling to Portland, OR, the week of July 13 for a meeting with other law firms who have sued Premera in order to collective strategize and coordinate our efforts and initiate a “full court press” as soon as the Oregon court allows the case to proceed. We expect a further update of status for you by the end of July or early August.
We thank you again for the privilege of representing you. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Yesterday, May 28, 2015, we traveled to Minneapolis to appear before a panel of federal district court judges who will be deciding where to group or “consolidate” all of the various Premera lawsuits that have been filed in various states. This panel of judges, known as the Multi-District Litigation Panel, will decide not only which state the cases will be grouped in for the time being but also the judge who will make decisions about a variety of issues in the case, including some of the core decisions such as whether the case can be brought as a class action and what claims can be brought against Premera under the specific facts of the case.
We will provide you with an update and let you know what the Panel has decided to do with the Premera cases soon.
We want to make sure we have the most recent information from you and your family about mis-uses of the information Premera had on file for you, like fraudulent tax return filings, unauthorized credit transactions, bank account withdrawals and any other sign that your identity has been compromised. These events are really critical to submit for us bring to the Court’s attention when we have our assigned judge in place because this information shows that the data security breach is not just a remote possibility but something very real that is affecting us in our daily lives. So, please keep us updated and let us know what you have experienced so that we can bring it to life for the court.