Thursday, March 29, 2012

Supreme Court: Man Can't Sue Feds For Sharing Medical Records

Muskal, Michael. “Supreme Court: Man Can't Sue Feds For Sharing Medical Records.” Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2012.

From the article: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a California pilot who tried to hide that he was HIV-positive cannot sue for emotional distress after two federal agencies shared the man's medical information.

In a 5-3 opinion, the court’s conservative majority upheld the federal government’s immunity from liability for a person who claims mental anguish or emotional distress, but who suffers no damage, such as loss of income.

The decision reverses a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that had struck down a ruling by a lower court in San Francisco.

"We hold that the Privacy Act does not unequivocally authorize an award of damages for mental or emotional distress,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the majority including Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. "Accordingly, the act does not waive the federal government's sovereign immunity from liability for such harms." Read more