Pena v. Orange County et al

Filing 96

ORDER granting 95 Motion to Seal medical record to be filed in support of Defendants' motion for summary judgment. Signed by Magistrate Judge Thomas B. Smith on 10/12/2016. (Smith, Thomas)

Download PDF
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA ORLANDO DIVISION LAURA ESPERANZA PENA, Plaintiff, v. Case No: 6:15-cv-69-Orl-18TBS CHRISTOPHER MARCUS, OSVALDO CRUZ, KRISTOPHER LOTT, MATTHEW BUTLER, BRIAN BEALIEU, CHRIS DELOTTE, ERIC SHELLENBERGER, CHRISTOPHER WRZESIAN and JOHN TORRES, Defendants. ORDER This case comes before the Court on Defendants’ Unopposed Motion to Seal Plaintiff’s Medical Record and Documentation Referring to Same (Doc. 95). Defendants wish to file an Orange County Fire Rescue Incident Report in support of their pending motion for summary judgment (Id., ¶ 1). According to Defendants, the incident report is a medical record concerning Plaintiff that is evidence to rebut his claim that he was deprived of medical care (Id., ¶ 4). Defendants assert that a sealing order is necessary because the incident report is private and confidential pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1301 et seq., and Florida state law (Id.). HIPAA is intended to keep a person’s protected health information strictly confidential. OPIS Management Resources, LLC v. Secretary, Florida Agency for Health Care Admin., 713 F.3d 1291, 1293 (11th Cir. 2013). Protected health information includes information maintained by a covered entity that can identify a person and relates to that person’s health, the receipt of healthcare services by the person, or the past, present, or future payment for healthcare services provided to the person. 45 C.F.R. § 164.514(b). Covered entities include health care providers. 45 C.F.R. § 160.103. Protected health information may be disclosed in judicial proceedings pursuant to court order. 45 C.F.R. § 164.512(e). The question is whether, if filed, the incident report should be maintained under seal where it cannot be viewed by the public. “The operations of the courts and the judicial conduct of judges are matters of utmost public concern,’” Romero v. Drummond Co., Inc., 480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Landmark Commc'ns, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829, 839 (1978)), “and ʻ[t]he common-law right of access to judicial proceedings, an essential component of our system of justice, is instrumental in securing the integrity of the process.’” Id. (quoting Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001)). “Beyond establishing a general presumption that criminal and civil actions should be conducted publicly, the common-law right of access includes the right to inspect and copy public records and documents.” Chicago Tribune Co., 263 F.3d at 1311 (citing Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978)). “The common law right of access may be overcome by a showing of good cause, which requires ‘balanc[ing] the asserted right of access against the other party's interest in keeping the information confidential.’” Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246 (quoting Chicago Tribune Co., 263 F.3d at 1309. In balancing these interests “courts consider, among other factors, whether allowing access would impair court functions or harm legitimate privacy interests, the degree of and likelihood of injury if made public, the reliability of the information, whether there will be an opportunity to respond to the information, whether the information concerns public officials or public concerns, and the availability of a less onerous alternative to sealing the documents.” Id. -2- HIPAA recognizes and protects Plaintiff’s privacy interest in his personal healthcare information. This privacy interest constitutes good cause to seal the incident report in the record. Accordingly, the motion to seal is GRANTED. The Clerk shall maintain the incident report UNDER SEAL until the conclusion of the case, including any appeals, or further order of the Court, whichever occurs first. DONE and ORDERED in Orlando, Florida on October 12, 2016. Copies furnished to Counsel of Record -3-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?