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Hill v. E. Baton Rouge Parish Dep't of Emergency Med. Servs.

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit

December 22, 2005, Judgment Rendered

NUMBER 2005 CA 1236

Opinion

 [*18]  [Pg 2] PETTIGREW, J.

In this appeal, plaintiffs seek reversal of the trial court's judgment denying their request for issuance of a writ of mandamus based on the court's determination that the 911 tapes for which they submitted a public records request pursuant to Louisiana Public Records Law, La. R.S. 44:1-42 is protected from disclosure based on federal law protections covering private health information and the privacy afforded under the state and federal [**2]  constitutions.

 [*19] FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 21, 2005, John Hill, a correspondent with the Gannett newspaper chain, submitted a request to the Department of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) "to listen to the 911 call or calls made that resulted in EMS going to the home of Secretary of State Fox McKeithen … on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005." 1 Mr. Hill received a letter dated February 25, 2005, from William Weatherford, Assistant Parish Attorney, notifying him that his request was denied. In the letter, Mr. Weatherford stated that the department was unable to grant Mr. Hill's request for the following reasons:

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, the Privacy Rule of this Act became effective 2001 (revised in August 2002) with a compliance deadline of April 14, 2003. The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge EMS of which the dispatch service (911) and ambulance service is a part is a "Covered Entity" and are not allowed to release "Protected Health Information" (PHI) unless released by the individual whose health information is protected. The 911 recording, which contains PHI, and all related documents contain PHI [**3]  and cannot be released.

Before HIPAA was enacted this information was considered public record to some extent. However, ] HIPAA preempts La. R.S. 44:1 et seq. Therefore, we are bound in this instance by the federal statute.

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925 So. 2d 17 *; 2005 La. App. LEXIS 2611 **; 34 Media L. Rep. 1154; 2005 1236 (La. App. 1 Cir. 12/22/05);

JOHN HILL; GANNETT RIVER STATES PUBLISHING CORPORATION, D/B/A THE TIMES OF SHREVEPORT; THE NEWS STAR, MONROE; THE DAILY ADVERTISER, LAFAYETTE; THE TOWN TALK, ALEXANDRIA; AND THE OPELOUSAS DAILY WORLD; AND THE LOUISIANA PRESS ASSOCIATION VERSUS EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES, EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH COMMUNICATIONS DISTRICT AND PAM PORTER

Subsequent History: Writ denied by Hill v. E. Baton Rouge Parish Dep't of Emergency Med. Servs., 927 So. 2d 311, 2006 La. LEXIS 1597 (La., May 5, 2006)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge. Suit Number 530,363, Division D, Section 21. Honorable Janice G. Clark, Judge.

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

Communications, healthcare provider, health information, tapes, healthcare, patient, public record, Privacy, covered entity, disclosure, inspection, records, phone call, transmits, plaintiffs', regulations, electronic, dispatch, entity, confidential communication, issuance of a writ, trial court, transportation, provisions, mandamus, qualify

Administrative Law, Governmental Information, Freedom of Information, Constitutional Law, Supremacy Clause, Federal Preemption, Business & Corporate Compliance, Healthcare Law, Medical Treatment, Patient Confidentiality, Freedom of Information, Methods of Disclosure, Public Inspection, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, General Overview, Privileges, Doctor-Patient Privilege, Defenses & Exemptions From Public Disclosure, Patient Confidentiality, Medical Records Under HIPAA, Personal Information, Healthcare Law, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Claims By & Against, Legislatures, Relations With Governments