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Montoya v. State

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 4, 2019

Christopher Montoya, Plaintiff,
State of Arizona, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Christopher Montoya, who is currently confined in the Arizona State Prison (ASP)-Kingman, brought this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant moves for summary judgment. (Doc. 28.) Plaintiff was informed of his rights and obligations to respond pursuant to Rand v. Rowland, 154 F.3d 952, 962 (9th Cir. 1998) (en banc) (Doc. 30), and he opposes the Motion. (Doc. 38.) Additionally, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Suppress Defendant's Material Evidence. (Doc. 43.)

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed a three-count First Amended Complaint against three Defendants regarding the medical care he received for a skin condition. (Doc. 9.) On screening under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a), the Court determined that Plaintiff stated an Eighth Amendment claim based on deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in Count Three against Defendant Herrick. (Doc. 10.) The Court dismissed the remaining claims and Defendants. (Id.)

         II. Plaintiff's Motion to Suppress Defendant's Material Evidence

         Plaintiff asserts that Defendant committed theft of Plaintiff's medical records without obtaining consent from Plaintiff. (Doc. 43.) As relief, Plaintiff requests that the Court suppress his medical records. (Id.) In response, Defendant asserts that she has never been in possession of Plaintiff's medical records, but that her counsel obtained them directly from Defendant's employer, Correct Care Solutions (CCS). (Doc. 44.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff waived any physician/patient privilege and there is no private right of action under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) even though Plaintiff's protected health information was disclosed without the required waiver to release such information. (Id.)

         Although Plaintiff put his medical information at issue in this lawsuit, he does not automatically waive his privacy interest in his protected health information or any required waiver to release of that information. See, e.g., 45 C.F.R. § 164.512(e)(1); Evans v. Tilton, No. 1:07-CV-01814, 2010 WL 3745648, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 16, 2010) (finding “blatant noncompliance” with HIPAA where prison disclosed the plaintiff's medical records without a waiver even though they were directly at issue in the lawsuit).[1] HIPAA provisions provide for disclosure of medical information in the course of a judicial proceeding, but certain requirements are placed on the provider and the party seeking the information. See 45 C.F.R. § 164.512(e)(1). HIPAA does not address how to treat a violation that occurs during discovery or trial. See Crenshaw v. MONY Life Ins. Co., 318 F.Supp.2d 1015, 1030 (S.D. Cal. 2004).

         Courts have held that the exclusive remedy available for HIPAA violations is through the United States Department of Health and Human Services. See Demoruelle v. United States, No. 15-00208 LEK-KSC, 2015 WL 6478610, at *4 n.4 (D. Hawai'i Oct. 26, 2015) (citing Acara v. Banks, 470 F.3d 569, 571 (5th Cir. 2006)). The statute limits enforcement of HIPAA to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1320d-5 and d-6. Therefore, the Court cannot provide Plaintiff the relief he seeks and his Motion to Suppress will be denied.

         III. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

         Defendant Herrick moves for summary judgment on the basis that she was not deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.

         A. Legal Standard

         A court must grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The movant bears the initial responsibility of presenting the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record, together with affidavits, if any, that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         If the movant fails to carry its initial burden of production, the nonmovant need not produce anything. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Co., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2000). But if the movant meets its initial responsibility, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute and that the fact in contention is material, i.e., a fact that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law, and that the dispute is genuine, i.e., the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 250 (1986); see Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D. Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995). The nonmovant need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor, First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968); however, it must “come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal citation omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1).

         At summary judgment, the judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. In its analysis, the court must believe the nonmovant's evidence and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Id. at 255. The court need consider ...

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