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HIPPA Appeal Sets DUI Precedent in 7th Circuit

By denying an Indiana man’s claims that doctors and cops violated his right to privacy when they shared results of a hospital blood test, appellate judges in the US 7th Circuit drew a bright line for the treatment of patient information in drunk-driving arrests. Tyquan Stewart landed in Fort Wayne’s Parkview Hospital after wrecking his car in 2016, where he signed a waiver allowing doctors to treat his injuries. They drew blood and then turned over results to the cops that arrested him for being over the legal limit.

Stewart pleaded guilty to DUI in state court but sued the hospital in federal court, contending it violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act when cops obtained the the test results without a warrant. His suit also sought to nullify the arrest under the 4th Amendment. Citing Stewart’s signed authorization, a judge in the Northern District of Indiana voided the claims on the basis of qualified immunity. Judges in the Chicago-based appellate court considered Stewart’s appeal on private right of action grounds. Their decision follows those in other federal districts that prevent individuals from suing over alleged HIPPA violations because enforcement of the act falls to the Department of Health and Human Services.