AETNA blames law firm for HIV mailing fiasco

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Jun 18, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — A healthcare company is suing a law firm, citing alleged breach of duty and liability.

AETNA Inc. filed a complaint on May 23, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Whatley Kallas, LLP and Consumer Watchdog, alleging the defendants breached their duty to protect AETNA members' confidential HIV-related information and allowed third-party individuals to view sensitive data information, causing AETNA underlying lawsuits.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that, in August 2017, it began receiving calls and emails from its members who had received notices signed by the defendants and claimed the words "HIV Medications" could be viewed through the envelopes' window below the member's name and address. 

These notices led AETNA members and their families to risks of potential immediate harm. They have also caused AETNA $17,162,000 just to resolve claims, and AETNA continues to incur expenses by defending itself in the underlying lawsuits and investigation.

The plaintiff holds Whatley Kallas, LLP and Consumer Watchdog responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to review the final proofs of the envelopes that would be used to send the Notices and Settlement Notices to AETNA members and failed and refused, and continue to fail and refuse, to defend or indemnify AETNA in its underlying lawsuit.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks damages in an amount of not less than $20 million, declaratory judgment, award of costs, attorneys' fees, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. They are represented by Frederick P. Santarelli and Thomas J. Elliott of Elliott Greenleaf, PC in Blue Bell and Matthew P. Kanny, Donna L. Wilson and Brandon P. Reilly of Manatt, Phelps Phillips, LLP in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Case number 2:18-cv-02172-JS

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Elliott Greenleaf Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips Llp U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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