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Premera Blue Cross facing five lawsuits over data breach

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At least five lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed in federal court in Seattle by policyholders of Premera Blue Cross in connection with the data breach announced March 17 that affected about 11 million customers.

The lawsuits charge Premera with negligence, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among other charges in connection with the data breach.

Montlake Terrace, Washington-based Premera reported it had discovered on Jan. 29 that cyber attackers had executed a “sophisticated” attack to gain unauthorized access to its information technology systems, and that its investigation further revealed the initial attack occurred on May 5, 2014.

The most recent litigation, which was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle by Seattle law firm Terrell, Marshall Daudt & Willie P.L.L.C., states that on April 18, 2014, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management delivered the results of an audit it had performed on Premera's information technology systems, and identified 10 areas in which the insurer's systems were inadequate and vulnerable to attack.

“Premera should have — and could have — done more to fulfill its duty to safeguard the data with which the customers entrusted it. And it could — and should — do more to protect its customers now that a breach has occurred,” says the lawsuit, Tennielle Cossey, Kathleen Connor and Donald Bruce Mountjoy v. Premera Blue Cross.

The other lawsuits were filed beginning on March 18, the day after Premera announced the breach.

A Premera spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.