Health Law Keyed to Furrow
Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N.P.
Candace Yath (Plaintiff) was a patient at Fairview Cedar Ridge Clinic (Defendant) where she went for an appointment. She told the doctor she had a new sex partner and wanted to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. In violation of Fairview's (Defendant) policy, Navy Tek (Defendant), a medical assistant employed at Fairview and related to Plaintiff's husband, read Plaintiff's file and found out Plaintiff's appointment was to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases because of having a new sex partner, and that she was afterward diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. Tek (Defendant) then sent an e-mail to Net Phat (Defendant) who was related to both Tek (Defendant) and Plaintiff by marriage, and who worked at Fairview as a medical records coder. With no authorization, Phat (Defendant) used her position to gain access to Plaintiff's medical record and then shared the information with others, including Plaintiff's husband, who she was separated from. When Plaintiff learned that Tek (Defendant) had read her medical file and also shared the information with Phat (Defendant), she contacted the hospital (Defendant), which conducted an investigation. The results confirmed both the wrongful access to Plaintiff's medical file and the disclosure that followed of her personal information. Eventually it was discovered that Tek's (Defendant) sister, Molyka Mao (Defendant), had created a disparaging Internet webpage at MySpace.com using the name "Rotten Candy" with information posted that Tek (Defendant) obtained from Plaintiff's medical file. A photograph of Plaintiff was included on the webpage which stated that "Rotten Candy" has a sexually transmitted disease, that she recently cheated on her husband, and that she was addicted to plastic surgery. The page listed six "friends" which indicated at least those six people had viewed the page. Plaintiff sued Defendants Tek, Mao, Phat and Fairview on a variety of theories. She sued all of them directly for invasion of her privacy and all except Mao for breach of a confidential relationship. She sued Defendants Tek, Mao and Phat for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff sued Fairview for negligent infliction of emotional stress. In addition, she sued all the defendants directly for violating a state statute when they disclosed information obtained from her medical file. Eventually, the district court granted summary judgment in the defendant's favor, specifically on the issues of invasion of privacy and whether the state statute was preempted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
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