The Court directed that this Notice be provided because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement that has been reached in this class action lawsuit and about all of your options before the Court decides whether to grant final approval of the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, and after objections or appeals, if any, are resolved, the Settlement Administrator appointed by the Court will distribute the payments that the Settlement allows. This Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, your legal rights, what payments are available, who is eligible for them, and how to get them.
The Court in charge of this case is the District Court of Harris County, Texas, 295th Judicial District. The case is known as Dekenipp v. Gastroenterology Consultants, P.A., Case No. 202161470 (the “Lawsuit”). The person who filed the Lawsuit is called the Plaintiff and the entity he sued, Gastroenterology Consultants, P.A., is called the Defendant.
The Lawsuit claims that GCPA was responsible for not preventing the Data Incident and asserts claims such as: negligence, negligence per se, breach of implied contract, breach of fiduciary duty, intrusion upon seclusion/invasion of privacy, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. The Lawsuit seeks, among other things, payment for persons who may have been injured by the Data Incident.
GCPA has denied and continues to deny all of the claims made in the Lawsuit, as well as all charges of wrongdoing or liability against it.
In a class action, one or more people called Class Representatives (in this case, Arthur Dekenipp) sue on behalf of people who are alleged to have similar claims. Together, all these people are called a Class or Class members. One Court and one judge resolves the issues for all Class members, except for those who exclude themselves from the Settlement Class.
The Court did not decide in favor of the Plaintiff or GCPA. Instead, the Plaintiff negotiated a settlement with GCPA that allows both the Plaintiff and GCPA to avoid the risks and costs of lengthy and uncertain litigation and the uncertainty of a trial and appeals. It also allows Settlement Class members to obtain payment and credit monitoring services without further delay. The Class Representative and his attorneys think the Settlement is best for all Settlement Class members. This Settlement does not mean that GCPA did anything wrong.
Who is Included in the Settlement?
You are part of this Settlement as a Settlement Class member if you previously received a notification from GCPA pertaining to the Data Incident.
Yes. Specifically excluded from the Settlement Class are: (i) GCPA and its officers and directors; (ii) all Settlement Class Members who timely and validly request exclusion from the Settlement Class; (iii) the Judge assigned to evaluate the fairness of this settlement; and (iv) any other Person found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be guilty under criminal law of initiating, causing, aiding or abetting the criminal activity occurrence of the Data Incident or who pleads nolo contendre to any such charge.
The Settlement Benefits—What You Get if You Qualify
The Settlement will provide payments and credit monitoring services to people who submit valid claims. The Settlement also provides for equitable relief in the form of data security enhancements.
Settlement Class Members can claim up to $500 each for: (1) Ordinary Expense Reimbursements (Question 8, below); (2) Lost Time (Question 8, below). Settlement Class Members can also claim up to $4,000 in Extraordinary Expense Reimbursements (Question 8, below). You may submit a claim for either or both types of payments. In order to claim each type of payment, you must provide related documentation with the Claim Form.
Settlement Class Members can also make a claim for up to 18-months of credit monitoring and identity protection services (Question 9, below).
Ordinary Expense Reimbursements, Lost Time, Extraordinary Expense Reimbursements and the cost of Notice and Claims Administration combined are capped at $400,000. Should the valid claims and costs of administration total over $400,000, the awards to class members will be reduced on a pro rata basis.
The Settlement also provides that GCPA has made significant information security enhancements. These enhancements include multifactor authentication, VPN remote access protocols, EDR software implementation, operating system and backup upgrades, and restricted access procedures. GCPA has committed to completing a security risk assessment in 2022 and 2023, and to enact reasonable and appropriate security enhancements identified in the security risk assessments.
Class Members are eligible to receive reimbursement of up to $500 (in total) for the following categories of documented out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the Data Incident including but not limited to:
- unreimbursed losses relating to fraud or identity theft;
- professional fees including attorneys’ fees, accountants’ fees and fees for credit repair services; costs associated with freezing or unfreezing credit with any credit reporting agency;
- credit monitoring costs that were incurred on or after January 10, 2021, through August 6, 2021; and
- miscellaneous expenses such as notary, fax, postage, copying, mileage and long-distance telephone charges, that were incurred on or after January 10, 2021, through the date of the Claims Deadline
Included within the $500, Settlement Class Members with documented out-of-pocket expenses may make a claim for up to three hours of lost time spent dealing with the Data Incident, to be paid out at $20 per hour. Such time can include, e.g.:
- time spent dealing with replacement card issues, reversing fraudulent charges, rescheduling medical appointments and/or finding alternative medical care and treatment, retaking or submitting to medical tests, locating medical records, retracing medical history, and any other demonstrable form of disruption to medical care and treatment, but only if at least one full hour was spent.
Settlement Class Members may also make a claim for up to $4,000 in documented Extraordinary Expense Reimbursements.
Claims for Ordinary Expense Reimbursements and Extraordinary Expense Reimbursements must be supported by reasonable documentation.
Class Members who submit a valid claim are eligible to enroll in a total of 18-months of credit monitoring services. Social Security Number Subclass Members are eligible to make a claim for 18-months of IdentityForce RapidResponse Premium. All other Settlement Class Members are eligible to make a claim for 18-months of IdentityForce RapidResponse ID. IdentityForce RapidResponse services include: advanced fraud monitoring; dark web ID monitoring; a convenient app and two factor authentication; fully managed restoration services; identify theft insurance up to $1,000,000; stolen funds reimbursement, tax fraud coverage and medical identity theft coverage. In addition to the services provided by RapidResponse ID, RapidResponse Premium also provides such services as: bank and credit card activity alerts; change of address monitoring; court record monitoring; medical ID fraud protection; online protection tools; and three-bureau credit monitoring; three bureau quarterly credit score and score tracker.
More details are provided in the Settlement Agreement, which is available HERE.
How to get Benefits—Submitting a Claim Form
To ask for a payment, you must complete and Submit a Claim Form. Claim Forms are available HERE, or you may request one by mail by calling 1-844-950-2288. Read the instructions carefully, fill out the Claim Form, and mail it postmarked no later than October 3, 2022 to:
GCPA Data Incident Claims Administrator
PO Box 5144
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
The Claims Administrator will initially decide whether the information provided on a Claim Form is complete and valid. The Claims Administrator may require additional information from any claimant. If the required information is not timely provided, the claim will be considered invalid and will not be paid.
Additional information regarding the claims process can be found in Section 2.6 of the Settlement Agreement, available HERE.
The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing at 1:30 p.m. on October 21, 2022 to decide whether to approve the Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, there may be appeals. It is always uncertain whether any appeals can be resolved favorably, and resolving them can take time. It also takes time for all the Claim Forms to be processed, depending on the number of claims submitted and whether any appeals are filed. Please be patient.
Remaining in the Settlement
You do not have to do anything to remain in the Settlement, but if you want a payment or credit monitoring services you must submit a Claim Form postmarked by October 3, 2022.
If the Settlement becomes final, you will give up your right to sue GCPA for the claims being resolved by this Settlement. The specific claims you are giving up against GCPA are described in Section 1.21 of the Settlement Agreement. You will be “releasing” GCPA and all related people or entities as described in Section 1.20 of the Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement is available HERE.
The Settlement Agreement describes the released claims with specific descriptions, so read it carefully. If you have any questions about what this means you can talk to the law firms listed in Question 18 for free or you can, of course, talk to your own lawyer at your own expense.
Excluding Yourself From the Settlement
If you do not want a payment from this Settlement, but you want to keep the right to sue GCPA about issues in the Litigation, then you must take steps to get out of the Settlement Class. This is called excluding yourself from – or is sometimes referred to as “opting out” of – the Settlement Class.
No. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you will not be entitled to any benefits of the Settlement, but you will not be bound by any judgment in this case.
No. Unless you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you give up any right to sue GCPA for the claims that this Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from the Settlement Class to start your own lawsuit or to be part of any different lawsuit relating to the claims in this case. If you exclude yourself, do not submit a Claim Form to ask for a payment.
To exclude yourself from the Settlement, you must send a letter by mail stating that you want to be excluded from the Settlement in Dekenipp v. Gastroenterology Consultants, P.A., Case No. 202161470. Your letter must also include your name, address, and signature. You must mail your exclusion request postmarked no later than August 4, 2022 to:
GCPA Data Breach Litigation Exclusions
P.O. Box 5144
Baton Rouge, LA 70821
The Lawyers Representing You
Yes. The Court appointed Gary E. Mason and Danielle L. Perry of Mason LLP, 5101 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 305 Washington, DC 20016, to represent you and other Settlement Class Members. These lawyers are called Class Counsel. You will not be charged for these lawyers. If you want to be represented by your own lawyer, you may hire one at your own expense.
If the Settlement is approved and becomes final, Class Counsel will ask the Court to award attorneys’ fees and litigation costs in the amount of $150,000. Class Counsel will also request approval of an incentive award of $2,500 for the Class Representative. If approved, these amounts will be paid separately by GCPA and will not reduce the amount of total payments available to Settlement Class Members.
Objecting to the Settlement
You can tell the Court that you do not agree with the Settlement or some part of it.
If you are a Settlement Class member, you can object to the Settlement if you do not like it or a portion of it. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement. The Court will consider your views before making a decision. To object, you must file with the Court and mail copies to Class Counsel and GCPA’s Counsel a written notice stating that you object to the Settlement in Dekenipp v. Gastroenterology Consultants, P.A., Case No. 202161470.
Your objection must include:
(i) the objector’s full name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address (if any);
(ii) information identifying the objector as a Settlement Class Member, including proof that the objector is a member of the Settlement Class (e.g., copy of notice, copy of original notice of the Data Incident);
(iii) a written statement of all grounds for the objection, accompanied by any legal support for the objection the objector believes applicable;
(iv) the identity of all counsel representing the objector;
(v) a statement whether the objector and/or his or her counsel will appear at the Final Fairness Hearing;
(vi) the objector’s signature and the signature of the objector’s duly authorized attorney or other duly authorized representative (along with documentation setting forth such representation); and
(vii) a list, by case name, court, and docket number, of all other cases in which the objector and/or the objector’s counsel has filed an objection to any proposed class action settlement within the last three (3) years.
Your objection must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court for Harris County, 295th Judicial District, 201 Caroline, 14th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002 no later than August 4, 2022. You must also mail copies of your objection to Class Counsel and GCPA’s Counsel postmarked no later than August 4, 2022, at all of the addresses below.
Gary E. Mason
Wilson Elser, LLP
1500 K Street, NW, Ste. 330
Washington, DC 20005
Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Class in this Settlement. If you exclude yourself from the Settlement, you have no basis to object or submit a Claim Form because the Settlement no longer affects you.
The Court’s Final Fairness Hearing
The Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the Settlement. You may attend and you may ask to speak, but you do not have to. You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.
The Court will hold a Final Fairness Hearing at 1:30 p.m. on October 21, 2022, in the District Court for Harris County, 295th Judicial District, 201 Caroline, 14th Floor, Houston, Texas 77002. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. The Court will take into consideration any properly-filed written objections and may also listen to people who have asked to speak at the hearing (see Question 20). The Court will also decide whether to approve fees and costs to Class Counsel, and the service award to the Class Representative.
No. Class Counsel will answer any questions the Court may have. However, you are welcome to attend at your own expense. If you file an objection, you do not have to come to Court to talk about it. You may also hire your own lawyer to attend, at your own expense, but you are not required to do so.
Yes, you may ask the Court for permission to speak at the Final Fairness Hearing. To do so, you must follow the instructions provided in Question 20 above. You cannot speak at the hearing if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.
If You Do Nothing
If you do nothing, you will not receive any compensation from this Settlement. If the Court approves the Settlement, you will be bound by the Settlement Agreement and the Release. This means you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against GCPA or related parties about the issues involved in the Lawsuit, resolved by this Settlement, and released by the Settlement Agreement.
Getting More Information
Yes. This Notice summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement, which is available HERE, or by writing to the GCPA Data Incident Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 5144, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.
If you have additional questions, call 1-844-950-2288, or write to the GCPA Data Incident Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 5144, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.
Please do not call the Court or the Clerk of the Court for additional information.
They cannot answer any questions regarding the Settlement or the Lawsuit