Fairview Clinics, N. P., 767 N.W.
2d 34, 54 A.L.R.6th699, 158 Lab.
Cas. (CCH) P60,843 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009) Facts: Yath (P) receiveda test for sexually transmitted disease at Fairview Cedar Ridge Clinic (D)because she had a new sex partner. An employee Navy Tek (D), who was an acquaintanceof Yath, viewed Yath’s medical file without authorization and relayedinformation to others, Phat, Mao, and Paul, Yath’s estranged husband. A Myspacepage had been created under the name of “Rotten Candy” with Yath’s picture andthe social media page disclosed her testing positive for a sexually transmitteddisease. Since Myspace was blocked from Fairview office computers, aninvestigation was completed.
It showed that the myspace page had been createdat Tek’s sister’s (Mao) place of business. Yath argues that invasion of privacyhad been committed. Yath sued Fairview for invasion of privacy and for breachof a confidential relationship. Yath also sued Fairview Clinics for negligent inflictionof emotional distress. Yath claimed all the defendants violated MinnesotaStatue section 144.335, subdivision 3a(e)by the disclosure of informationobtained from Yath’s medical file. Evidence was offered showing that Tek did indeed access themedical files without authorization (i.
e. invasion of privacy) but there wasnot sufficient evidence that Tek created the myspace page from Fairview Clinic’soffice. A summary judgment was granted by the district court in the Fairview’sfavor on the issues of invasion of privacy and whether the state statute waspreempted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Issue: IsFairview vicariously liable for the records access and disclosure by itsemployees? Holding and Rule:No, Fairview was not liable because Tek and Phat were not acting within their “scopeof employment” when they obtained private information from Yath’s medicalfiles.
Yath failed to provide sufficient evidence that proved thatthe employer or employee created the MySpace page containing information fromYath’s medical file precluding any liability on her claim of invasion ofprivacy. Disposition:Affirmed. Effect on Businessand Society: An employer may be held liable for the intentional misconductof its employees when the source of the harm is related to the duties of theemployee and the harm occurs within work-related limits of time and place. The inquisitionto determine if the source of the harm is related to the duties of the employeeis whether the employee’s acts were foreseeable, a question of fact.