Justices agree to hear hospital records breach suit, post-conviction appeal

A lawsuit against a hospital over a former employee who accessed confidential medical records without authorization will be heard by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Justices last week granted transfer in the case of Community Health Network, Inc. v. Heather McKenzie, et al., 20S-CT-648. Heather McKenzie’s medical records and those of other patients were accessed by an employee who was subsequently placed on administrative leave and ultimately fired.

McKenzie and others sued Community Health, bringing claims of vicarious liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior and negligent training, supervision and retention against Community, as well as claims of negligence and invasion of privacy/intrusion against the former employee.

After the Marion Superior Court’s denial of Community’s Trial Rule 12(B)(1) motion to dismiss the complaint and motion for summary judgment, an interlocutory appeal was granted and the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed in part. The panel remanded with instructions for the trial court to grant summary judgment in favor of Community on the invasion of privacy/intrusion claim.

Justices then granted McKenzie’s petition seeking transfer, one of three cases the high court agreed to hear last week.

Justices also took a post-conviction relief case, Alexa Hamilton v. State of Indiana, 20S-PC-649. Alexa Hamilton filed a PCR petition seeking relief from her aggregate 20-year executed sentence for convictions of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine and Level 6 felony operating while intoxicated.

Hamilton argued ineffective assistance of counsel for, among other things, failing to call witnesses and present additional mitigating evidence, including her relapse to drug use due to her grief over the death of her oldest child’s father. The Elkhart Circuit Court denied Hamilton’s petition, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in a September memorandum decision. 

Finally, the high court granted transfer and ruled in a third case last week – another post-conviction case in which justices reduced the murder sentence of a man convicted of murder as a juvenile. That case decided Nov. 17 is State of Indiana v. Matthew Stidham.

Justices also denied transfer last week in 12 cases. Transfer actions may be viewed here. 

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