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Wrongful Disclosure of Medical Information Warrants Punitive Damages

Randi A. J. (Anonymous) v Long Island Surgi-Center
2007 NY Slip Op 06953 (September 25, 2007)

It is now part of the declared public policy of the State of New York to protect every individual's right to keep medical treatment private and personal and medical records confidential (see Public Health Law sec. 2803-c[1], [3][f]). As a result, when a state-licensed entity breaches that right---and especially when it does so in connection with a particularly sensitive medical procedure---more may be involved than simply a private wrong.

. . .

The core question presented on this appeal is whether, in the young woman's subsequent action to recover damages, inter alia, for wrongful disclosure of confidential medical information, it was error for the trial court to submit the issue of punitive damages to the jury. We hold that, under the circumstances of this case, it was not.

The original punitive damages award was $300,000. Although the second department approved of the issue going to the jury, on remand it ordered a new trial on the issue of punitive damages due to certain improprieties in the trial court's procedure.

The full text of the case (unpublished/subject to correction) is here.

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