[UPDATED with New $$$ Details:] Settlement of Anthem Blue Cross Suit Over Web Files on 600,000 Left Unprotected Gets Early OK

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UPDATE, JULY 21, 4:13 P.M.: A representative of a Newport Beach law firm just provided the Weekly with more details on what members of a class-action lawsuit would receive under a proposed settlement with Anthem Blue Cross and related insurance and healthcare companies over personal information about 600,000 individuals that was left easily available via the Internet.

Granted preliminary approval by Judge Ronald L. Bauer, the pact would cap benefits at $3.5 million for all those in the class who suffered identity theft or other harm due to the breach, and an additional $1.5 million for out-of-pocket expenses.

Individual reimbursement for those harmed would be capped at $50,000. Out-of-pocket expenses are assigned specific dollar amounts.

The agreement also calls for the collection of companies known as WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross to cover legal expenses for the class and to donate $250,000 to local and national law centers.

The main reason the rep from Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson contacted the Weekly was to correct dates contained in the original post below. Members have until Sept. 28 to opt into the program, and they have until Oct. 24 to object or opt out of all awards.

Judge Bauer has set a fairness hearing for Nov. 14. His decision on whether to grant final approval to the settlement will likely depend on how many people join the class action. Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson is sending out postcards and emails to WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross members. Visit  www.AnthemBlueCrossSecuritySettlement.com for more details.

ORIGINAL POST, JULY 20, 7:02 A.M.: Settlement of a class action lawsuit against Anthem Blue Cross and related insurance and healthcare companies over personal information about 600,000 individuals easily available via the Internet has won preliminary approval in Orange County Superior Court.

So, what do those people have coming to them under the terms of the settlement? Free credit monitoring and identity theft insurance! Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

The court approved a notice plan to advise the nationwide class of its legal rights, benefits and options, reads a statement from the plaintiffs in Blue Cross of California Website Security Cases, Case No. JCCP 4647.

Named in the suit were Woodland Hills-based Anthem Blue Cross of California, Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company, The WellPoint Companies, Inc., WellPoint California Services, Inc. and WellPoint Behavioral Health, Inc. (together called "WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross").

The complaint claimed that from about Oct. 23, 2009, to March 10, 2010, WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross improperly stored personal information and electronic versions of individual health insurance applications for more than 600,000 customers, enrollees or subscribers on its web-based servers without username, password and encryption protections.

The information included personal identifying information and personal health information, such as Social Security numbers, home and office addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers and financial information used for premium payments.

WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross denies the claims in the lawsuit but settled anyway. The settlement does not indicated any wrongdoing by WellPoint/Anthem Blue Cross.

Under the terms of the pact, identified members of the class would get up to two years of free Debix credit monitoring and identity theft insurance (valued at $238.80), or one additional year for those who already receive Debix coverage. Those who can demonstrate being victims of identity theft or other losses would receive five more years of monitoring and insurance (valued at $597).

The window to apply for benefits is from Sept. 28 to Oct. 24. A toll-free number (877.527.2354) has been established, as has a website (www.AnthemBlueCrossSecuritySettlement.com), where notices, claim forms, and the settlement agreement may be obtained. Those affected may also write to WellPoint/Blue Cross Website Security Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 6177, Novato, CA 94948-6177.

Notices informing members of the class action suit about their legal rights will be mailed and emailed directly to them in the weeks leading up to a Nov. 14 court hearing, according to the statement that identifies Daniel Robinson of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson in Newport Beach of being California's lead settlement class counsel.

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