An $18.4 million settlement has been reached to resolve a class-action lawsuit filed against Mass General Brigham in relation to the usage of site analytics tools, cookies, pixels, and related technologies on a number of websites without acquiring the permission of website visitors first.
The lawsuit defendants have educational sites that offer information with regards to the healthcare services they offer and the programs they manage. The general public can access those websites and there’s no need for visitors to sign up or set up accounts.
Two plaintiffs, John Doe and Jane Doe filed a lawsuit against Partners Healthcare System, also called Mass General Brigham. Allegedly, the websites used third-party analytics tools, pixels, and cookies, that prompted their website visitors to share data regarding how they use the web, and that the data was transmitted and marketed to third parties with no their permission.
Although it is typical for websites to utilize third-party analytics tools such as the ones found on the defendants’ sites, the plaintiffs claimed there was no information given to web visitors that their data would be obtained and transmitted and that there is no consent given to allow the harvest of their data.
The defendants did not admit any wrongdoing or liability and claimed that no damages or injuries had been suffered by the plaintiffs and class members by visiting the sites. There was no disclosure of protected health information (PHI) and there was no data breach. The defendants rejected all accusations in the class action lawsuit. Nonetheless, the plaintiffs claimed they were ready to strongly defend the lawsuit. And so, it was decided to resolve the case to stay clear of the costs and hassle of a trial and any associated appeals.
The settlement involved 38 healthcare companies which include Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, and covers website visitors from May 23, 2016 to July 31, 2021. The settlement in the amount of $18.4 million will pay for attorneys’ service fees and other costs, and class members can get a payment of as much as $100, depending on the number of claims submitted.