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Judge tosses class action in stolen Horizon Blue Cross laptops case

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A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed putative class action litigation filed against Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield in connection with two stolen laptops, stating the plaintiffs cannot prove that suffered any damage from the theft.

Two laptops containing data on 839,000 members were stolen from the headquarters of Newark, New Jersey-based Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., which conducts business as Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, over the weekend of Nov. 1-3, 2013, according to last week’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Newark in In Re Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. Data Breach Litigation. The ruling was publicized this week.

Four plaintiffs filed suit against the insurer in connection with the theft, claiming it put them in “imminent, immediate and continuing increased risk of harm from identity theft,” in violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and state law, according to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi.

Focusing on three of the plaintiffs, Judge Cecchi said plaintiffs must show they have been injured to pursue the litigation, but they “fail to point out any individual harm” or any misuse of the compromised data.

They “cannot rely on their increased likelihood of future harm as a basis for standing,” said the ruling.

The fourth plaintiff, Mitchell Rindner, had claimed the Horizon laptop thief filed a fraudulent joint tax return under his and his wife’s name. But, even accepting his information was taken from the laptop, “he cannot plausibly demonstrate a causal connection adequate for standing” to file suit, said the judge, in dismissing the complaint.