Anonymous Cabell residents sue St. Mary’s for invasion of privacy

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 29, 2016

HUNTINGTON – Two individuals are suing St. Mary’s Medical Center anonymously, claiming the hospital invaded their privacy and negligently released their personal and protected health information.

In November, Jane Roe experienced serious health issues resulting in her admission to St. Mary’s and, at various times during her treatment, she required the use of a ventilator and, as a result, she could not communicate with the defendant and its agents and employees, according to a complaint filed Feb. 16 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Roe claims her husband, John Doe, had medical power of attorney for her and the permission to receive his wife’s medical information to allow him to communicate with the defendant’s hospital staff.

The plaintiff did not give permission to the defendant or its agents to communicate or otherwise divulge any of her medical information to any third parties and neither did Doe give anyone at St. Mary’s that permission.

Roe and Doe claim that during Roe’s admission, St. Mary’s diagnosed her with a serious health condition and, at the time of her diagnosis, she did not receive any information about her condition.

After learning of his wife’s serious health condition, Doe received notice that at least one of the defendant’s employees had told unauthorized third parties of his wife’s specific medical diagnosis.

When the defendant divulged Roe’s specific medical diagnosis to the third parties, Rue was not yet aware of her own medical condition because she was still on a ventilator, according to the suit.

Roe and Doe claim as a result of the improper and illegal dissemination of Roe’s medical information to unauthorized persons, they have suffered damages and seek complete justice.

As a provider of health care services, St. Mary’s owes a legal duty to ensure, protect and maintain the privacy and confidential medical and health care information of all persons whom it serves and treats, according to the suit.

Roe and Doe claim that the defendant knew or should have known that its employees could and, unfortunately, would improperly divulge Roe’s private medical information in the course and scope of their employments in the absence of proper security/protection measures taken by the defendant.

The defendant invaded Roe’s privacy and breached its contract with her, according to the suit.

Roe and Doe are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Hoyt Glazer of the Law Office of Hoyt Glazer PLLC.

The plaintiffs also filed a motion to file the complaint and proceed anonymously.

“In this case, your plaintiffs submit that identification by their initials compromises their privacy and poses an unnecessary risk of their identification within their local community, which, in turn, will result in stigma and, unfortunately, ostracism,” the motion states.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 16-C-113

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