Case update: Yeager v. Dickerson and attorney regulation by HIPAA

By John H. Helmers, Jr.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals issued an opinion this morning relating to HIPAA disclosures and attorneys. The case is Yeager v. Dickerson. The Court held that disclosures of medical information during a custody trial is not a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and therefore, a lawsuit against the attorneys who offered this information as evidence at trial could not be sustained. The case filed was filed by Donna Yeager, the executrix of the estate of Stacy Clise, against the attorneys who represented the father in the custody proceeding.

The Court of Appeals found:

The most important issue is whether Yeager has a private action under HIPAA for which she can recover. “HIPAA does not create a state-based private cause of action for violations of its provisions.” Young v. Carran, 289 S.W.3d 586, 588 (Ky. App. 2008), citing McMillen v. Kentucky Dept. of Corrections, 233 S.W.3d 203, 205 (Ky. App. 2007).  Furthermore, “federal courts have uniformly held that HIPAA does not create a private cause of action even at the federal level.”

By doing so, Kentucky joined sister states in holding that attorneys were not providers and could not be sued for introducing such evidence.