Aetna Hit With Class Action Suit Over HIV Disclosures

STAT News reports:

Legal groups on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against the health insurer Aetna, alleging the company violated the privacy of its customers by sending many of them letters through which the phrase “filling prescriptions for HIV” was visible through envelope windows. The federal suit alleges the breach affected as many as 12,000 Aetna customers living in 23 states.

“For 40 years, HIV-related public health messages have been geared toward assuring people that it’s safe to come forward to get confidential HIV treatment, and now our clients come forward for HIV-related healthcare and Aetna fails to provide confidentiality,” said Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which filed the suit with the Legal Action Center and Berger & Montague P.C., in a written statement.

The lead plaintiff is listed by the pseudonym Andrew Beckett — a nod to the main character in the 1993 film “Philadelphia,” based in part on the story of an attorney who filed one of the first wrongful termination lawsuits at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.

  • Lumpy Gaga

    O/T: NY Times article tease

    The timing of the Tuesday visit could put President Trump in an awkward
    position of adding to the logistical headaches for [Texas] officials.

    Ya think?

    • bkmn

      Which is why Obama tended to stay away from disasters until they were at least out of rescue mode and into full recovery mode.

    • Today’s news cycle feels especially weird and nightmarish…

    • clay

      . . . and now he’s talking about going back on Saturday, as well.

    • Lumpy Gaga

      Other front-page headlines:

      * Thousands Stranded in Houston With Waters Still Rising
      * Nearly 2 Feet of Rain Still Expected; Death Toll Rises to 8
      * Hospitals Inundated, With Many Cut Off
      * At Texas Shelter, Desperate to Hear News From Home

      • lattebud

        And Joel Olsteen hasn’t opened his church or any facilities for relief efforts.

  • bkmn

    I wonder if this HIPAA non-compliance will cost them any government contracts. I have a feeling Aetna will be settling this case quickly.

    • Natty Enquirer

      They haven’t any leg to stand on.

    • MBear

      Maybe one of the executives’ mistress will have to forego a new car this year, but other than that, biz as usual and the only ones who will feel the burden will be those who cannot afford the burden

      • JW Swift

        Funny how executive bonuses and golden parachutes never seem to be affected by such scandals (or their costs).

        • MBear

          Funny… and telling

  • Good. This was an unforgivable blunder.

  • O/T Arpaio apparently in addition to being a pardoned concentration camp commandant, has really shitty lawyers.

    https://twitter.com/bradheath/status/902269927494701057

    Reason being you can’t vacate a guilty verdict based on a pardon. The pardon itself carries with it the presumption of admission of guilt.

    • For whatever reason, they think they can take the unreviewable power of the President to pardon people from sentences or penalties for their crimes and turn it into something even worse: Complete retroactive criminal and civil immunity for any acts, no matter how monstrous or illegal.

      • In case it’s not clear:
        – The President can commute federal sentences (i.e., reduce them for the sake of clemency, such as when Manning was released early); this is not a pardon
        – The President can issue a pardon, which wipes away any penalties (jail time, probation, forfeiture, civil fines paid to gov’t) for federal crimes; Arpaio was found guilty of federal criminal contempt of court.
        – At the time, it was deemed questionable (and still has not been tested in court) as to whether a President could pardon someone who had not yet been charged with a federal crime, i.e. the Nixon pardon.
        – Many times now, the courts have determined that acceptance of a pardon, regardless what happened in the court case, is a tacit admission of guilt.
        – Pardons do not absolve one of new future charges, even if related to the original pardon, nor from civil lawsuits or any state-level charges.
        – Oh, and fun fact: Accepting a pardon means one cannot invoke 5th Amendment exemption from further testimony on the matter being pardoned, as self-incrimination is no longer possible. Moreover, refusing to testify or giving false testimony can result in new criminal charges.

        • Phillip in L.A.

          Hi BeccaM, You seem to be very informed about this Pardon. Can you please direct me to a copy of the text of the actual pardon? I’m having difficulty finding it

    • bzrd

      Arg, the Nazi arpaio does not HAVE to take the pardon, he can let it wind its way through sentencing then appeals and probably die before all is said and done! If not resolved by then, he will be assumed to be innocent just as Kenny-boy-Lay’s conviction, for the Enron scandal, was vacated because he died before his appeals were resolved.

      • Yeah, in truth the pardon was probably not Arpaio’s ideal outcome. He likely was only going to receive probation and a fine anyway, given the nature of the crime (contempt of court) and his age, plus the fact he’s no longer in office.

        • bzrd

          But I thought I read he was appealing his case which can take years to be finalized if he gets to court with each appeal.

    • Ken M

      Can’t have his cake and eat it too.

    • Phillip in L.A.

      Agree about the shitty lawyers, BeccaM! It appears the President picked a very poor time to claim he issued a Pardon (if he did at all): after conviction, but before sentencing.

  • jimbo65

    Good. Might as well strike while the iron is hot. And before that vile 45 administration weakens or eliminates class action lawsuits.

  • JWC

    So they should

  • JT

    Sue the fuckers out of existence!

  • MikeBx2

    O/T and ICYMI
    This is pretty great…
    https://twitter.com/itsjustjen__/status/901808219592511488

  • William

    Only lawyers win class action lawsuits. The victims will be lucky to be awarded one dollar, or a coupon for an order of French Fries.

  • clay

    They’re blaming it on a sub-contractor who was in charge of stuffing the envelopes, that the paper slipped– but I see it as a design issue– don’t put any protected information on the top third of the page. Just DON’T!

    • JW Swift

      The buck’s gotta stop somewhere…

  • Blake J Butler

    Mrs. Bowers gets blocked by Joel Osteen. I assume she did not like the criticism of his 16,000 seated church sitting locked and empty while thousands are needing refuge.

    https://scontent-dft4-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/21077556_10155040132781872_6344673886080282989_n.png?oh=fe2221f14199af235e68d20997ceb6d0&oe=5A1F98C8

  • Todd20036

    Good. Aetna deserves this.

    Aetna, I’m glad I’ve never met ya

    • Blake Mason

      I think they were pulling out of the exchanges for ACA.

      • The_Wretched

        They were trying to blackmail the Obama admin into allowing a merger and threatened to pull out of ACA exchanges if they didn’t get it (they didn’t).

  • Sam_Handwich
    • I need that goddamned wormhole back to Earth Prime, stat.

      • clay

        Let’s see, where did I put that Mother Box?

      • Natty Enquirer

        Sorry, tachyons are still in the dryer.

      • UrsusArctos

        Hold on a second and let me get my tea towel!

    • Tulle Christensen

      Yea my sister watches NHK news on PBS at 5 and it was broadcasting the Japan equivalent of our emergency broadcast system repeating over and over to go to bomb shelters if you are in northern Japan

      added: she was freaking out a bit

  • Cuberly
    • Blake Mason

      no freaking way… but then it’s Trump… so… way

      • Cuberly

        Yep, very much way. 🙁

      • The_Wretched

        I’ve stopped using “that’s pathetic” with regards to Trump crap…I’d otherwise be stuck on the same note 24/7.

    • Blithering fucking idiot… He actually believes most of the country wanted him to pardon the concentration camp commandant.

      • Cuberly

        To be honest I don’t think most people know just how evil Arpaio was/is. They maybe hear he cracked down on the undocumented and then they think, cool, he’s doing his job.

        The media only really gave coverage to the battles between Arpaio and the Obama admin. Or, that’s what I recall.

      • Ken M

        Well, the people whose asses he was kissing in AZ did. I’m surprised he hasn’t come flat out and said that it’s what the people (at least of AZ,) wanted.

      • Cattleya1

        He is an absolutely clueless, totally self-absorbed, Blithering fucking idiot. You’ve been on a tear today – I like that!

    • William

      That’s not how it works.

    • OdieDenCO

      cause people trapped in the middle of a hurricane have nothing better to do than watch donny pontificate. ratings? really?

    • Treant

      Just tell Trump that this is true and he should crater to 32% by the time the water recede.

  • Sam_Handwich
    • Natty Enquirer

      Uh-oh.

    • BobSF_94117

      Nothing on Google yet, but Twitter reports it flew OVER Hokkaido and into the sea.

      • Natty Enquirer

        That would be an act of war against Japan, wouldn’t it?

        • clay

          If Japan chooses to respond in that fashion, and the altitude.

        • BobSF_94117

          I don’t think so, assuming they fired high, which they probably did.

          But it might be enough for you-know-who.

          • Natty Enquirer

            There is no international law limiting the altitude of sovereign airspace.

          • BobSF_94117

            Still, I don’t think violating a nation’s airspace is considered an act of war. We “accidentally” fly in Russian airspace. China flies in Japanese airspace without asking permission.

            It’s a provocation, certainly, but not an act of war, I don’t think.

          • McSwagg

            Unless you’re a South Korean Airliner that strays into Russian airspace over Sakhalin Island. Then you get shot down.

      • BobSF_94117

        Report on NKH

        https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/live/

        You have to wait for it to cycle through to a news break. They seem rather calm about it. None of the hysteria you’d expect on U.S. “news” channels.

    • safari
      • Lars Littlefield

        I heard the missile was explicitly called “Kim Jung Bobby.”

  • Yeah, about Donnie’s repeated statements that he had no business dealings with Russia, not before and not during the campaign? More lies, as usual.
    https://twitter.com/funder/status/902276426472144896

    • UrsusArctos

      Damnit! I’m gonna have to hit Alibaba.com and order another container of cheap chinese “pearls” to clutch before long.

    • prixator

      A special counsel should be appointed to determine if Dumpty has ever made an entirely truthful statement.

  • Cuberly

    SoCalGal is gonna love this. Criminal Rep opens mouth ingests foot. Admits he’s sticking with donnie because he is where he is, in the WH. Party over country, the GOP way.

    https://twitter.com/kylegriffin1/status/902278168656084992

    • Revolutionary War Era Hunter: “Sure Benedict Arnold is an asshole, but he’s our asshole.”

  • John Ruff

    Maybe Aetna should just plan for a big settlement now. This doesn’t even address the 12,000 HIPAA violations.

  • William

    The victims would be better off finding their own lawyers from a tv commercial. There’s plenty of lawyers who work on a 1/3 contingency fee.

    • Annerdr

      Not on this sort of case. Too risky.

      • William

        After the first few cases have run their course, other lawyers can use them as a script.

        • Annerdr

          Likely it’ll be a certified as a class action. That’s the sort of case I work on currently.

  • Cuberly

    Stupid question but, in these types of mass mailings, don’t they do mail pulls to check for problems? I used to do production management at a marketing firm back in the day and when we did mass mailings we were charged will pulling sample pieces from every 100 or 1000 pieces processed. You check everything, from how the contents are folded, the order they’re stacked, the location of the address window if it’s a windowed envelope.

    This is freaking goofy as hell.

    • UrsusArctos

      Low bid, automated process. It’ll save Aetna money YUGELY so management can get even bigger bonuses/stock awards. /snark

      • Cuberly

        Yeesh, when we did mailings where customer info was part of the mailing we had all these controls in place. From the minute the database is processed and printed onto the mailing to the timed destruction of the customer information data dump file. Everything had to be signed off on.

    • Lars Littlefield

      Yeah, but that’s only for advertising materials. This was just personal medical information regarding lab results. A much lower priority.

      • Cuberly

        Actually, if I read it right, it was a mass mailing re; changes in drug coverage and costs. That’s still a data pull from their patient info database that’s processed as a direct mail. The envelopes being used should have been tested first. Rather common procedure for billings as well as mailings.

        • clay

          Here, this might help {/s}

          • Cuberly

            Doh! Now that I reread it, oy vey….yep, I can be slow on the uptake…

          • TuuxKabin

            It’s the Twinkies. #;0)

          • Cuberly

            lol…most likely.

  • Phillip in L.A.

    Do Fed.R.Civ.Proc. allow a ‘pseudonymous Plaintiff’? I smell Due Process problems a-brewing

    • clay

      PA state does, in the case of minor plaintiffs and plaintiffs at threat of increased or simply continuing discrimination. The identity does have to be known to the court.

      • Phillip in L.A.

        Interesting, clay, thx–did not know that! 🙂 The article above says “federal lawsuit,” though

        • clay

          and you stated Fed in your post, but PA state process is based on federal.

          • Phillip in L.A.

            Maybe. (But see, e.g., Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 5.2(a) [Permissible Redacted Filings extend to last four digits of social security numbers, names/initials of minors, year of an individual’s birth, and numbers in financial account at issue]; ibid., Rule 10 [“The title of the complaint must name all the parties”]).

  • jpinphx

    Write the check now.

  • stanhope

    Aetna should be sued out of business…they are worse than the whores at the gates of babylon…bitches should give free insurance to every hiv positive person for 5 years

  • GET YOUR CHECKS!

  • TheManicMechanic

    Class action. Well, at least the lawyers will get richer.

  • JCF