Submitted August 29, 2019 [*]
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. 1:17-cv-346 -
Theresa L. Springmann, Chief Judge.
Wood, Chief Judge, Scudder, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
SCUDDER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Stewart sustained serious injuries upon crashing his car
while driving under the influence. An emergency room doctor
treated Stewart and in doing so ordered a blood draw, which
confirmed that he had been drinking. The police requested and
received the blood-test results from the hospital's
medical staff. Stewart later sued both officers for violating
the Fourth Amendment by obtaining his test results without a
warrant and the hospital's medical staff for violating
the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act by
disclosing the results. The district court entered summary
judgment for the defendants. We affirm.
does not remember the time he spent in the hospital and
indeed says that he was unconscious. His treating physician,
however, said that upon arriving in the emergency room,
Stewart relayed that he had been drinking and lost control of
his car. He also signed a form consenting to treatment. As
part of determining the proper course of treatment, the
doctor ordered a blood draw.
that alcohol contributed to the crash, the police asked the
medical staff for Stewart's blood-test results. An
Indiana statute requires medical staff who test a
person's blood "for diagnostic purposes" to
"disclose the results of the test to a law enforcement
officer who requests the ... results as a part of a criminal
investigation" regardless of whether the person has
"consented to or otherwise authorized their
release." Ind. Code § 9-30-6-6(a) (2016). The test
results showed that Stewart was intoxicated, and the nurses
shared that information with the police. The officers then
arrested Stewart and Indiana prosecutors later charged him
with the state-law misdemeanor of operating a vehicle while
intoxicated. Stewart pleaded guilty.
42 U.S.C. § 1983, Stewart sued the police officers,
doctor, nurses, and their employers in federal court. He
accused the hospital's medical staff of violating the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or
HIPAA, by disclosing medical information (his blood-test
results) to the police without his consent. He also alleged
that the police officers and their employer, the City of Fort
Wayne, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by obtaining
those results without a warrant. He added claims under
Indiana law for negligence, infliction of emotional distress,
battery, and invasion of privacy. In granting the
defendants' motions for summary judgment, the district
court concluded that Stewart's federal claims failed as a
matter of law, and that he had not brought forth enough
evidence to allow a jury to decide any state-law claim in his
begin with Stewart's statutory claim under HIPAA. The
district court concluded that the statute provides no private
right of action and accordingly entered judgment for the
medical defendants on that basis. We agree.
prohibits the disclosure of medical records without the
patient's consent. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1320d-1 to
d-7. But nowhere does the statute expressly create a private
right of action to enforce this substantive prohibition. So
the question becomes whether Congress nonetheless intended to
allow private enforcement and the award of a private remedy.
See Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S.Ct. 1843, 1855-56
we have not addressed the issue in a precedential decision,
all other circuits to have considered the question have
concluded that HIPAA does not confer individual enforcement
rights-express or implied. See Acara v. Banks, 470
F.3d 569, 570-72 (5th Cir. 2006); Dodd v. Jones, 623
F.3d 563, 569 (8th Cir. 2010); Seaton v. Mayberg,610 F.3d 530, 533 (9th Cir. 2010); Wilkerson v.
Shinseki,606 F.3d 1256, 1267 n.4 (10th Cir. 2010).
Those courts have reasoned that Congress, by delegating
enforcement authority to the Secretary of Health and Human
Services, did not intend for HIPAA to include or create a
private remedy. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 1320d-3, -5. Under
the Supreme Court's decision in Alexander v.
Sandoval, Congress's choices about ...