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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 101532
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My husband works for the City of Milwaukee (Wisconsin). A third

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My husband works for the City of Milwaukee (Wisconsin). A third party vendor for their Wellness Program compromised personal information including names, addresses, gender and social security numbers of employees and spouses. We did NOT signed up for this program because of privacy concerns. We were told that our personal information was also part of this compromised data even though we have never been enrolled in this program. Do we have a case against the City in providing our information (en mass) to this vendor when we didn't sign up for this program.

The Wellness Program is a program designed to collect employee blood work and medical data. In signing up for the program employees get a ~$60 a month break on their health insurance.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my reply.

I am sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me:

Did the compromise lead to identity theft and/or other types of theft by any chance? Or, not?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


No, not yet. Data was compromised about a month ago. I didn't think we would be involved so I haven't even checked my credit report yet. But that's not to say that it won't lead to identity or or theft.

Thank you, J.

On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

You have a case, however, it may not be worth pursuit because the damages are not clear and may not be any except possibly a little worry but nothing concrete. Allow me to explain.

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.

Here, this may be enough for negligence and public disclosure of private facts.

NEGLIGENCE: In order to constitute a cause of action for negligence there must exist: (1) A duty of care on the part of the defendant; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) a causal connection between the conduct and the injury; and (4) an actual loss or damage as a result of the injury. Falk v. Whitewater, 65 Wis.2d 83, 85, 221 N.W.2d 915 (1974); Padilla v. Bydalek, 56 Wis.2d 772, 776, 203 N.W.2d 15 (1973).

DISCLOSURE OF PRIVATE FACTS: Under Wisconcin's 895.5 - see here.

Now, the elements are all there. This is a suit, arguably. However, the issue is what you would get out of it. There has been no theft of identity so far. Addresses and spouse names are XXXXX XXXXX as is gender, of course. SSN is not, but there is no theft yet. For example, there has not been disclosure of a disease, etc.

As such, the question to the Court will be "okay, what are the damages here?" The Court (judge oir jury) may return back a symbolic amount but it may not be worth your while! In an example, I like to use a couple that sued Google for having their home on Streetview. The Court agreed. But the couple could not prove any real damages. so the Court awarded them $1. See here.

Yes, they released the information, but it really has not harmed you per se (at least that is what the Defendant would say). Someone in your situation may be better off demanding via letter an equivalent of a few years of coverage of an ID service like PrivacyGuard. The city may agree. Otherwise, if you take this to court, you may win, but the court may not grant more in judgment than that, since no other damages have been proven and the only concrete damage is the threat of identity theft that has not yet happened.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Gentle Reminder: Use the reply button to keep chatting, or please rate and submit your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correctt. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I understand. I guess my frustration is that my data has not been protected and in fact whole-sale distributed to a vendor that had no business having it. I will now have to watch mine and my husbands credit like a hawk In perpetuity. I could be "injured" by this decades from now.


 


The City is offering 1 year of protection, but they have announced it on the news. So now the "crooks" can just hang on to the information until next year and have a field day.


 


Doesn't the City have a duty to protect this information? and not distribute it to anyone without my or my husband's express or implied constant?


 


I thought that along would make it neglegence.

J,

Doesn't the City have a duty to protect this information? and not distribute it to anyone without my or my husband's express or implied constant?

Yes, it does. And this does make it negligence - I stated this as so in my original answer.

Unfortunately, the problem is with calculating the damages. It is hard to show. And without any damages, the Court cannot award what it MAY believe perhaps possibly would happen.

Someone in your situation can negotiate for 4-5 years, and likely, they will agree, perhaps.

Again, apologies for the bad news.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the reply button to keep chatting, or rate and submit your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
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