November 18, 2019

Yath for a sexually transmitted disease. Since Myspace was

Yath v. Fairview Clinics, N. P., 767 N.W.2d 34, 54 A.L.R.6th
699, 158 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P60,843 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009)

 

Facts: Yath (P) received
a test for sexually transmitted disease at Fairview Cedar Ridge Clinic (D)
because she had a new sex partner. An employee Navy Tek (D), who was an acquaintance
of Yath, viewed Yath’s medical file without authorization and relayed
information to others, Phat, Mao, and Paul, Yath’s estranged husband. A Myspace
page had been created under the name of “Rotten Candy” with Yath’s picture and
the social media page disclosed her testing positive for a sexually transmitted
disease. Since Myspace was blocked from Fairview office computers, an
investigation was completed. It showed that the myspace page had been created
at Tek’s sister’s (Mao) place of business. Yath argues that invasion of privacy
had been committed. Yath sued Fairview for invasion of privacy and for breach
of a confidential relationship. Yath also sued Fairview Clinics for negligent infliction
of emotional distress. Yath claimed all the defendants violated Minnesota
Statue section 144.335, subdivision 3a(e)by the disclosure of information
obtained from Yath’s medical file.

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Evidence was offered showing that Tek did indeed access the
medical files without authorization (i.e. invasion of privacy) but there was
not sufficient evidence that Tek created the myspace page from Fairview Clinic’s
office. A summary judgment was granted by the district court in the Fairview’s
favor on the issues of invasion of privacy and whether the state statute was
preempted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

 

Issue: Is
Fairview vicariously liable for the records access and disclosure by its
employees?

 

Holding and Rule:
No, Fairview was not liable because Tek and Phat were not acting within their “scope
of employment” when they obtained private information from Yath’s medical
files.

Yath failed to provide sufficient evidence that proved that
the employer or employee created the MySpace page containing information from
Yath’s medical file precluding any liability on her claim of invasion of
privacy.

 

Disposition:
Affirmed.

 

Effect on Business
and Society: An employer may be held liable for the intentional misconduct
of its employees when the source of the harm is related to the duties of the
employee and the harm occurs within work-related limits of time and place. The inquisition
to determine if the source of the harm is related to the duties of the employee
is whether the employee’s acts were foreseeable, a question of fact.

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