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Elmadih v. Primary Health Services Center

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

March 12, 2018

DOREA M. ELMADIH
v.
PRIMARY HEALTH SERVICES CENTER, ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES, JUDGE

          RULING

          ROBERT G. JAMES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 35] filed by Defendant Primary Health Services Center. Plaintiff Dorea M. Elmadih opposes the motion. [Doc. No. 37]. For reasons assigned below, the motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I.FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, Plaintiff received dental treatment at Defendant Primary Health Services Center9;s (“PHSC”) facility.

         On approximately July 1');">10, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, Plaintiff signed, dated, and printed her name on a blank form entitled, “Authorization to Use or Disclose Protected Health Information” (“the blank authorization”). [Doc. Nos. 37-1');">11');">1, 37-1');">12');">2');">2');">2]. When Plaintiff signed the form, the blank for inserting the provider authorized to disclose protected health information was vacant, the blanks for Plaintiff9;s name, social security number, date of birth, and address were vacant, the blanks for the particular information to be disclosed and dates of treatment were vacant, and the blank for inserting the party to whom information should be provided was vacant. [Doc. No. 37-1');">12');">2');">2');">2].

         On August 4, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, Plaintiff9;s counsel sent an “Authorization to Use or Disclose Protected Health Information” (“the first authorization”) to PHSC, mistakenly requesting copies of Plaintiff9;s medical records from June 1');">18, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, rather than June 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14. [Doc. No. 37-4, pp. 3-4]. Plaintiff did not actually sign the first authorization; rather, Plaintiff9;s counsel created the first authorization “by copying” the blank authorization. [Doc. No. 37-1');">1, p. 1');">1]. Plaintiff9;s counsel9;s assistant then “filled in the provider9;s name and other identifying information, including what she believed to be the correct date of treatment (June 1');">18, 2');">2');">2');">201');">1[4]) onto the copy of the original blank release.” [Doc. No. 37-1');">1, p. 1');">1].

         On August 2');">2');">2');">29, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, PHSC advised Plaintiff9;s counsel that it had “no records responsive to the dates [of treatment listed on the first] authorization.” [Doc. No. 35-4, p. 1');">1]. “PHSC had no records on [Plaintiff] from June 1');">18, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, forward.” [Doc. No. 35-2');">2');">2');">2, p. 1');">1].

         On September 3, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, Plaintiff9;s counsel9;s assistant “prepared a second duplicate medical release [“the second authorization”] using the correct [treatment] date of June 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14 and sent another request for medical records . . . .” [Doc. Nos. 37-1');">1, p. 2');">2');">2');">2; 37-7]. The second authorization “was simply the [first] authorization with the dates of requested records altered from June 1');">18, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14 to June 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14.” [Doc. Nos. 35-2');">2');">2');">2, p. 2');">2');">2');">2; 37-7, p. 2');">2');">2');">2]. PHSC responded to the second authorization on September 1');">15, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14:

The second request . . . clearly is nothing more than an alteration of the first request wherein the date range for the requested records was changed. Thus, the altered request does not comply with the strict requirements of [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”)] . Accordingly, PHSC cannot and will not process this request inasmuch as it was not executed by [Plaintiff] in the form presented.

[Doc. No. 35-6, p. 1');">1]. PHSC “pointed out [the] deficiencies” to Plaintiff9;s counsel “and requested that he merely send a new authorization . . . that was signed by [Plaintiff].” [Doc. No. 35-1');">1, p. 6]. But, according to PHSC, Plaintiff9;s counsel refused to send a proper authorization “and instead filed the instant suit.” Id.

         On September 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">14, Plaintiff9;s counsel sent a letter to PHSC, claiming that PHSC violated La. Rev. Stat. § 40:1');">11');">165.1');">1(A)(2');">2');">2');">2)(b)(i) when it declined to provide the medical records that Plaintiff9;s counsel requested in the second authorization. [Doc. No. 37-9, p. 2');">2');">2');">2].

         Plaintiff9;s counsel maintains that he sent a third authorization to PHSC on January 1');">16, 2');">2');">2');">201');">15, which Plaintiff signed on the same date. [Doc. Nos. 37-1');">1, p. 3; 37-1');">10, p. 2');">2');">2');">2]. PHSC contends that it “has no records that it ever received” the third authorization. [Doc. No. 40, p. 1');">1].

         Plaintiff filed suit in Monroe City Court on May 2');">2');">2');">29, 2');">2');">2');">201');">15, alleging dental malpractice and, pertinent here, that PHSC's “refusal to comply and fulfill the requests . . . amounts to violations of LA R.S. 40:1');">12');">2');">2');">299.96.”[1');">1" name="FN1');">1" id= "FN1');">1">1');">1] [Doc. No. 1');">1-2');">2');">2');">2, p. 4]. Defendants ...


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