Tavares v. Lawrence & Memorial Hospital
A court can find that a nonparty relative's medical records are critical to the parties' claims and restrict the use of the nonparty's medical records to the present litigation, to protect the nonparty's privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Lori Tavares, requested family and medical leave, to permit her to care for her husband while he recovered from back surgery, and was discharged for misuse of the leave, because she accompanied her husband and friends on a vacation to Mexico. Tavares sued the defendant employer, alleging wrongful discharge. The defendant employer requested her husband's medical records and argued that the records of the husband, a nonparty, were critical to the defendant's ability to defend against Tavares' claims. Allegedly, the plaintiff's attorney, Leonard McDermott, asserted that the husband's medical records were not pertinent. The medical records of a nonparty are undeniably of a private nature. The court found that the husband's medical condition as a result of his May 2004 injury was directly at issue. The medical records of the husband's back surgeon, Alan Waitze, are pertinent for the period between May 2004 and April 2010. To comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the court ordered the parties to restrict the use of the husband's medical records to the resolution of the wife's wrongful-discharge claim and to destroy or return the medical records when the litigation concludes.