Court Affirms $853,000 Verdict For Unauthorized Disclosure Of Medical Records

Court Affirms $853000 Verdict For Unauthorized Disclosure: In its opinion filed on May 6, 2022, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed a jury’s verdict in the amount of $853,000 for general damages (noneconomic damages) in favor of the plaintiff who alleged that the defendant health care provider negligently breached its duty of confidentiality owed to the plaintiff by releasing confidential medical records without her consent.

The Underlying Facts

In 2007, the plaintiff, Emily Byrne, filed a lawsuit against the defendant, Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., alleging that the defendant had breached its duty of patient confidentiality by responding to a subpoena duces tecum and negligently sending the plaintiff’s medical records to the New Haven Regional Children’s Probate Court (Children’s Probate Court) without her knowledge and authorization.

Before trial, the defendant admitted that it had breached its privacy policy and its agreement to keep the plaintiff’s medical records confidential and had negligently mailed the records to the Children’s Probate Court without her knowledge. The defendant contended at trial, however, that its actions were not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $853,000, and the trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion for offer of judgment interest, attorney’s fees, and postjudgment interest.

In upholding the jury’s verdict, the Connecticut Appellate Court stated, “There was evidence before the jury pursuant to the parties’ stipulation that the defendant copied and mailed the plaintiff’s medical records to the Children’s Probate Court and that the records were placed in a publicly accessible file. Killian [a retired probate judge] testified as to the manner in which medical records are to be handled in the Probate Court. Given the testimony that was allowed, the members of the jury were perfectly capable of determining whether the clerk’s handling of the plaintiff’s records was so ‘‘extraordinarily abnormal’’ that it broke the chain of causation between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury. We therefore conclude that the defendant was not harmed and no injustice resulted from the court’s limiting of the scope of Killian’s testimony.”

The Connecticut Appellate Court held, “On the basis of our review of the record, we conclude that the court properly submitted the plaintiff’s claim for future noneconomic damages to the jury on the basis of the evidence presented at trial.” (The plaintiff had testified at trial: “I mean, it’s hard to describe all the emotional harm. I mean, it caused a lot of suffering, a tremendous amount of anxiety and hurt and sadness.’’ She also testified that she ‘‘didn’t go for medical care unless it was absolutely necessary to . . . . I was afraid that anything would be released, you know—I didn’t feel—I no longer felt safe as a patient.’’)

Source Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., AC 43413.

If you or a family member suffered serious injury or other harm as a result of medical negligence in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Connecticut medical malpractice attorney, or a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2022 at 5:27 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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