Supreme Court Upholds Defendant’s Health Care Privacy

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court is upholding the medical privacy of a defendant in a lawsuit.

According to the court opinion, Ruben Holocker hit Scarlett Palm with his vehicle.

She sued him for negligence, but during the evidence-gathering phase of the case, also tried to ask the defendant about his health status. Holocker refused.

When the case was argued before the Supreme Court earlier this year, Palm's lawyer, Christopher Sokn, said there were good reasons to ask Holocker about his health care.

“The plaintiff learned — prior to the lawsuit, from other people in the community — that the defendant is legally blind, and does not report accidents that he’s in [for] fear of losing his license,” Sokn told the court.

But attorney Dan Compton countered by pointing out that none of the health allegations were part of the original lawsuit. He argues that means they should not be part of the case.

“This is: somebody’s cousin’s boyfriend’s hairdresser said, ‘Oh, Holocker’s blind.’ And the plaintiff stuck it in a brief and said, ’Somebody’s cousin’s hairdresser says the plaintiff’s blind,” Compton said.

The Supreme Court accepted that logic, saying because the case was about negligence, Holocker’s medical history was not at issue, and he was within his rights to refuse to talk about it.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio