Court Ruled in Favor of Patient In Impermissible PHI Disclosure Lawsuit

An 11-year legal case filed after a woman’s healthcare records were released to her ex-boyfriend has at long last reached a conclusion. A jury has ruled in favor of the plaintiff.

Emily Byrne filed a lawsuit against Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, located in Westport, CT, subsequent to the release of her healthcare records to her ex-boyfriend via his attorney. Emily Byrne split up with Andro Mendoza after she found out she was with child. Mendoza used legal means to obtain Byrne’s healthcare records. His lawyers issued a subpoena to Avery Center to provide Byrne’s healthcare records and Avery Center complied with the request.

Mendoza viewed Byrne’s healthcare records and used the information to gain custody of the baby. The information was also used to harass and extort money from Byrne.

The lawsuit stated that because of the impermissible disclosure of her healthcare records, Byrne suffered from anxiety, emotional distress and trauma, and was exposed to civil cases in federal district court. She was also threatened with criminal charges by Mendoza and sustained financial losses from legal and healthcare bills.

The lawsuit claimed Avery Center breached its contract with Byrne and was negligent and violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The case was presented before the Connecticut Supreme Court on two occasions. Avery Center tried to have the lawsuit dismissed since HIPAA does not have a private cause of action; nevertheless, the Supreme Court decided that a patient who experienced harm because of a breach of medical privacy had tort remedy. The lawsuit was then sent to the Superior Court for trial.

Avery Center had earlier tried to settle the lawsuit for $100,000; however, Byrne rejected the offer. Byrne wanted $1,000,000 in damages: The highest amount that the Avery Center’s insurance plan covered.

After six days of testimony, the Brigdeport Superior Court in Connecticut ruled in favor of the plaintiff and Byrne was awarded $853,000 in damages.