The decision of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to file an invasion of privacy lawsuit against ESPN and Adam Schefter has sparked a debate regarding the merits of the case.
The paperwork initiating the case has now been disclosed, and it appears that Pierre-Paul’s claims will have at least some traction.
The civil complaint filed in a Florida state court in Miami (and posted by Deadspin) alleges that ESPN and Schefter violated Florida Statute 456.057 by disclosing the medical record obtained from the hospital where Pierre-Paul had a finger amputated. Specifically, Section 456.057(11) states that a third party who receives a patient’s medical record “is prohibited from further disclosing any information in the medical record without the expressed written consent of the patient or the patient’s legal representative.”
Although the balance of Section 456.057(11) seems to suggest that the prohibition applies where the disclosure to a third party was made legally, a third party who obtained the medical record improperly arguably should not receive any sort of implied immunity to re-publish the document.
The lawsuit also alleges invasion of privacy under what’s known as the “common law” (i.e., generally-accepted legal principles that apply independent of a statute, regulation, of other codified provision).
Obviously, neither Schefter nor ESPN researched Florida law before publishing the medical record. And most of the armchair lawyers who commented on the matter focused only on the federal HIPAA law, which applies only to medical providers.
But state law also applies, and Florida law potentially has two different approaches for Pierre-Paul to pursue.
Which is all the more reason for a reporter to never publish a medical record without express written consent to do so.