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AG Derek Schmidt sues Georgia company for failing to protect nursing home patients’ personal information

Release Date: May 15, 2017

TOPEKA – (May 15, 2017) –A Georgia company that had operated a nursing home in Humboldt violated Kansas law by failing to secure or properly dispose of patient records containing personal information, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a lawsuit filed last week.

The attorney general filed suit against a Georgia company that had operated a nursing home in Humboldt. That nursing home is now closed. The filing in Allen County District Court alleges that Alta Care Corporation, d/b/a Pinecrest Nursing Home; Doug Mittleider, the owner and operator of Pinecrest Nursing Home; and Florida Senior Housing Council, Inc., which owns the building, were aware that patient and employee records were contained unsecured in the building which used to operate as Pinecrest Nursing Home. The building has been unoccupied since 2011 and has been burglarized and trespassed upon during that time. Despite this knowledge, the defendants failed to secure or properly dispose of the records containing personal information, the lawsuit alleges.

Chief Judge Daniel D. Creitz last week issued a temporary order requiring the company to follow the requirements of the Kansas law governing the handling of records that contain personal information.

“As holders of personal information, defendants are subject to the requirements of the Wayne Owen Act,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants have failed to comply with those requirements by failing to implement and maintain reasonable procedures and practices to protect personal information, and failing to take reasonable steps to destroy or arrange for the destruction of records containing personal information.”

“Personal information” includes information such as a social security number, driver’s license number, financial account number or credit or debit card number that can be misused to commit identity theft or otherwise harm the person whose information is compromised. It also includes any information, such as medical records, for which a security obligation is imposed by federal or state statute. Under Kansas law, businesses that collect the personal information of others have a duty to safeguard it.

The court further ordered the attorney general to enter onto the premises of the nursing home and take possession of all records containing personal information to prevent further risk of disclosure. The attorney general’s office did so last week. A hearing has been scheduled for June 6 at 9:30 a.m. in Allen County District Court.

A copy of the petition, motion and order are available at http://bit.ly/2qKwFPW.

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