Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Lawsuit for theft of health data by two former employees

The Optum building on 3rd and Roma NW is one of the 12 Optum locations in the underground area. OptumCare New Mexico filed a lawsuit alleging former employees stole vast amounts of patient and company information for a competitor. (Roberto E. Rosales / )

Copyright © 2021

OptumCare New Mexico has filed a lawsuit alleging that two former employees of the company used a personal email account to obtain confidential medical information from more than 24,000 Optum patients for the benefit of a competitor.

The lawsuit alleges that Giancarlo Martinez took a job with Cano Health New Mexico while he was still employed by Optum. While he was “two-time” at both companies, he allegedly emailed numerous patient lists and internal reports to his personal email account, according to a lawsuit filed in 2nd District Court on Sept. 30.

The data Martinez received contained “a significant amount of highly confidential and proprietary personal and medical information – including proprietary health information from more than 24,000 Optum patients,” the lawsuit said.

Martinez and his manager at Cano, Shaun Burns, used the information to recruit Optum doctors and patients to move to Cano Health, the lawsuit said.

“As a result, several Optum employees have resigned to move to Cano Health,” and were “directed by Martinez to encourage the patients they treated at Optum clinics to move to Cano Health,” it says the lawsuit.

Andrew Schultz, an Albuquerque attorney representing Cano Health and Burns, declined to comment on Friday.

Martinez did not immediately respond to phone and email messages asking for comments on Friday.

Martinez and Burns began recruiting Optum staff and patients before Martinez stepped down as site administrator for Optum’s primary care practice on the 2900 block of Coors NW in July, the lawsuit states.

Burns resigned as director of clinical operations for Optum’s primary care in September 2020. The lawsuit identifies him as Cano Health’s regional operations director for New Mexico.

Martinez sent an email from his Optum email address on May 13th containing an “extensive” Excel file with detailed information on 23,904 Optum patients, the lawsuit said.

The file contained “physical and mental health problems, conditions and disorders”, treatment histories, prescription expenses, insurance plan information and other personally identifiable information, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks to destroy all Optum records that Cano Health allegedly received.

“Optum takes the security of patient and company information very seriously and takes all appropriate measures to protect the data,” said Optum spokeswoman Amy Knapp in a written statement.

The lawsuit provides a timetable for the alleged actions of Martinez and Burns. It contains:

• On May 14th, the day after Martinez emailed himself the detailed patient information, he took a job at Cano Health starting June 1st.

• On May 19, Martinez sent eight emails from Optum to his personal email address with additional personal information on 8,339 Optum patients, including their physicians, future scheduled visits, and specific illnesses.

• Martinez took family leave from Optum June 7 through July 5 without informing the company that he “worked actively at Cano Health during that time”.

• Martinez resigned from Optum on July 8th.

OptumCare New Mexico offers primary and specialty care in 12 clinics in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, according to the Optum website.

Florida-based Cano Health LLC has 108 medical centers across New Mexico, Florida, Texas, and Nevada that specialize in senior care, according to its website. It identifies three “in brief” clinic locations in Albuquerque and Los Ranchos.

The New Mexico Secretary of State’s office lists Cano Health New Mexico as a domestic limited company in good standing.

The lawsuit asked a judge to order Cano Health to search and destroy its computer servers and databases for Optum data.

Optum is also seeking an injunction that would prevent Martinez and Burns from asking Optum employees and patients to switch to Cano Health. The lawsuit also demands unspecified damages, as found in the trial.

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