Court to Notify Veterans of Class Action Settlement Involving Data Theft

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A notification program began yesterday as ordered by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to alert veterans, spouses of veterans, and members of the military of a proposed $20 million settlement reached with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and certain Department employees in their official capacities (together called the "Defendants") in a class action lawsuit about the theft of computer equipment which was reported to contain personal information.

On May 3, 2006, computer equipment which was reported to contain personal information of military veterans, spouses of veterans, and military personnel, was stolen from the home of an employee of Veterans Affairs.

The equipment was reported to contain information such as names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 17.5 million individuals, as well as some disability ratings.

The Class includes all veterans, spouses of veterans, and military personnel who had actual damages from May 3, 2006 through February 11, 2009 that were directly related to the theft of computer equipment which was reported to contain personal information from the home of a VA employee on May 3, 2006.

The Class also includes all representatives, heirs, administrators, executors, beneficiaries, agents, and assigns of Class Members. Actual damages include out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a direct result of the theft, including those that were: used to protect or monitor personal or financial information; or the result of physical symptoms of severe emotional distress. Out-of-pocket expenses may include, for example, the purchase of credit monitoring to protect against identity loss.

Any money remaining in the Settlement Fund after paying Class Members, lawyers' fees, costs, and expenses will be donated to the Fisher House Foundation, Inc. and The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, both veterans-related charities.

Notices informing Class Members about their legal rights are scheduled to appear in consumer and military publications in the United States leading up to a hearing on July 28, 2009, when the Court will consider whether to grant final approval to the settlement.

Those affected by this settlement can send in a claim form to ask for a payment, or they can ask to be excluded from, or object to, the settlement and its terms. The deadline for exclusions and objections is June 29, 2009. The deadline to file a claim is November 27, 2009.

A toll-free number, 1-888-288-9625, has been established in the case (called In Re: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Data Theft Litigation, MDL No. 1796), along with a website,, where notices, a claim form, and the settlement agreement may be obtained. Those affected may also write to VA Settlement, PO Box 6727, Portland, OR 97228-6727

For more info and tips on protecting yourself and family from the harmful effects of identity theft and  data breaches see earlier blog.

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