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Scott v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

October 3, 2013

Aaron Scott, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Joseph N. Williams, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Thomas Stallings, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Anthony Moody, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Larry Solomon, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Lavance Turnage, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Frank E. Tyson, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Defendant-Appellee. Jameel R. Haamid, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction,

APPEALS from the Court of Claims of Ohio (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-11157), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2012-01554), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-12137), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-11173), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-11165), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-13061), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-13249), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-11432), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2012-02089), (Ct. of Cl. No. 2011-12056)

Swope and Swope, and Richard F. Swope, for appellants.

Michael DeWine, Attorney General, and Kristin S. Boggs, for appellee.

DECISION

VUKOVICH, J.

(¶ 1} These ten consolidated appeals are brought from judgments of the Court of Claims of Ohio granting summary judgment in favor of defendant-appellee, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC").

(¶ 2} The ten individual plaintiffs-appellants are all inmates at the Mansfield Correctional Institution ("MCI") who allege that their confidential medical records were negligently released to the general prison population. Their separately-filed complaints state claims for invasion of privacy through wrongful dissemination of medical information. They also generally claim a violation of the right to privacy under other, unspecified, state and federal law.

(¶ 3} The Court of Claims granted summary judgment for ODRC on the basis that the nonspecific invasion-of-privacy claims were constitutional in nature and could not be considered by the Court of Claims. With respect to the claims for wrongful dissemination of medical information, the court addressed this as a common-law claim for the tort of unauthorized disclosure of privileged medical information. The court found that the circumstances under which plaintiffs' medical information was disclosed did not meet the elements set forth in Biddle v. Warren Gen. Hosp., 86 Ohio St.3d 395 (1999), for this tort. As an alternative ground for ruling in favor of ODRC, the court held that ODRC was entitled to the defense of discretionary immunity for the actions and inaction of MCI staff that resulted in the disclosure of medical information.

(¶ 4} Plaintiffs bring the following six assignments of error on appeal:

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 1:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED WHEN IT DECIDED DISPUTED ISSUES OF FACTS, GRANTED SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND FAILED TO GIVE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS' EVIDENCE ITS MOST FAVORABLE INTERPRETATION, SUPPORTING OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANT-APPELLEE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 2:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING DOCUMENTS SEVERAL INMATES RELY ON AS BEING PART OF DOCUMENTS DISSEMINATED TO THE PRISON POPULATION WERE NOT ATTACHED TO THE PLEADINGS OR MADE EXHIBITS, SINCE THIS WAS NOT AT ISSUE, BRIEFED OR DISCUSSED, EXCEPT BY THE COURT, AND IN FACT WERE IN THE RECORD.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR NO. 3:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THE TRASH DISPOSAL UTILIZED IN DISPOSING OF OUTDATED MEDICAL RECORDS WAS AUTHORIZED BASED ON DISCRETION WHEN PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS' EVIDENCE ESTABLISHED THERE WAS NO POLICY AND ACCESS WAS OPEN TO ALL EMPLOYEES AND INMATES UPON TRASH LEAVING ...

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