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A Tough Question

Question: Let's pretend your neighbor hates you. Now let's pretend your neighbor works at the local hospital so she pulled your medical records and found you've been treated for various venereal diseases over the last 10 years.

Now lets pretend your neighbor's spouse works for a credit reporting agency and he pulls your credit report and finds you have stiffed everyone in town.

Finally, let's pretend your neighbor steals all this information and gives it to me to put on Wizbangblog.com

What should happen to each of us? The neighbor, her husband and me, the guy who blogged it?

[Apparently it is a tough question as I've had few answers... Lemme sweeten the pot. What would you say about the blogger getting sued? See also: Mrs. Davis's question in the comments]

For those of you who get it, if you don't mind, can you not tell people where I'm going until at least 5pm eastern? I'd like to see how people react to my "single blind" experiment.

Comments (91)

I'm going to assume that yo... (Below threshold)

I'm going to assume that you've published the info. Here's what happens.

Medical worker: Lawsuit against worker + employer for breach of fiduciary duty, as well as criminal charges for releasing the records.

Credit-reporting agency person:: Worker dismissed from job for violating confidentiality. Criminal charges for release of information. Lawsuit against agency + worker for releasing information.

You: All depends on what you do. At the very least, lawsuit for invasion of privacy. Might even try to tag you with defamation, inducement of breach, and tortious interference with contracts, but I don't think those will stick.

The relevant tort is called... (Below threshold)

The relevant tort is called "Public Disclosure of Private Facts." I have blogged about it in a very different context -- the outing of an 18-year gay student by his school principal to his parents against his wishes.

Well, what pennywit wrote, ... (Below threshold)

Well, what pennywit wrote, BUT, as I've recently discovered, it requires deep pockets to even get a ball rolling as to a defamation suit.

But the situation would certainly require some sort of legal action against responsible parties and even their employers are now liable, even IF they dismiss the problematic individuals, so, you should or anyone in similar situation should not have a problem getting legal representation, is my point.

I'd also consider moving. Moving to anywhere where you have no contact with that neighbor, who I'd also seek a Restraining Order against (talk to an attorney about that, too, because people like that tend to continue on and on and on with similar aggressive behaviors and unless you have helps from law enforcement, you get to go crazy along with them or else end up in jail yourself for confronting people like that, who have a way of pulling people down by very cruel means, so best to just disconnect and do so effectively in a self protective capacity, and move somewhere where they can't easily contact you again, and stop sharing your personal information with your neighbors, unfortunately).

MEDICAL RECORDS: Shoot neig... (Below threshold)

MEDICAL RECORDS: Shoot neighbor.
CREDIT REPORT: Shoot neighbor's husband.
POST ON WIZBANG: Shoot neighbor, neighbor's husband, then you.

Problem solved. God bless the NRA.

As an aside here, EVERYone ... (Below threshold)

As an aside here, EVERYone has information in their various medical records that someone else can use to their disadvantage -- anyone can take any issue and then apply that to your disadvantage although every human alive has "issues" as to medical records, which is why they are so importantly required to maintain somewhat private.

Another thing I've learned: never rely on a public hospital or institution for anything. Unless it's a terrible emergency and you have no other options. Seek private medical care if you can chose and at least you can anticipate a bit of a higher standard of both care and privacy. Not entirely, just that by comparison with public institutions, private ones behave by different standards to a degree and you can rely on most practitioners affiliated with them to be more confidential, as best as can be hoped for, and to also require greater standards from the institutions that they enjoy practicing agreements with. It matters.

Find a doctor or group of physicians who are affiliated with a private hospital and bypass all the others, particularly many of the "teaching hospitals" who, well...the better doctors tend to move into private practice.

The healthcare worker and t... (Below threshold)
M. Murcek:

The healthcare worker and the organization where they worked would get whammed hard by HIPAA regulations. The credit report stuff could probably be prosecuted as abetting identity theft.

But then again, I'm not a lawyer, so who knows?

I guess if the victim of all this was a Republican politician, it would get filed under "no harm, no foul."

...so the assumption here i... (Below threshold)

...so the assumption here is that I'm a TV news reporter?

The issue of blogging, thou... (Below threshold)

The issue of blogging, though...I am anticipating and hoping for the time when more people can be held accountable. There needs to be greater accountability, particularly when it is used, as it is being used, to defame people by making whatever accusations can be made in hopes that something sticks.

The internet is too often used just as the telephone once was before caller I.D. and related features existed...heavy breathers and ranters who plan various violence still use the internet and need to be curtailed. Exposed. Names, addresses, things of that nature.

Lawsuit against hospital. C... (Below threshold)

Lawsuit against hospital. Criminal charges against the female neighbor.
Lawsuit against credit agency.
Criminal charges against the blogger for posting illegally obtained medical information. (1st amendment does not protect criminal speech.)

So where are you going?

How did you find out it was... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

How did you find out it was the neighbors? Did the blogger rat them out?

Excellent question Mrs. D.<... (Below threshold)

Excellent question Mrs. D.

You can't prove -without a subpoena- that it was them. BUT it is the hospital records where she works and the credit records from where he works so it is rather obvious.

Well, I know for a fact tha... (Below threshold)

Well, I know for a fact that _S_ used to be a man.

And he/she never had anything to do with anything even remotely related to Star Wars.

You just can’t believe anything she is posting.

Or me either, for that matter…… ;)

For the medical information... (Below threshold)
Brian B:

For the medical information, federal prosicution, jail time and huge fines under HIPPA... then a civil lawsuit.

The blogger should know tha... (Below threshold)

The blogger should know that posting this information is a serious violation of a person's privacy rights, especially the medical information which is protected by HIPAA. Everybody should be sued.

(I didn't have time to read the other replies, sorry if this is the same as someone else's)

OK take HIPPA off the table... (Below threshold)

OK take HIPPA off the table just insert "really big secret" for medical records.

The medical info is definit... (Below threshold)

The medical info is definitely protected under HIPPA and should be prosecuted to the max.

Not sure on the law and privacy info for credit. Hopefully it exists and those folks should be prosecuted.

Now to the blogger. I know exactly where you are going with this, but will keep your secret. It would be vicious for a blogger to make such information public, and would have to know that it was illegally obtained, so therefore he becomes an accomplice and should be prosecuted.

After you reveal where you are going, the issue of discussion should be if we are comparing apples and oranges, i.e. does one entity have the same right to privacy as another entity. I will leave it there for now.

I think all three of the pe... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

I think all three of the people are looking at some bad ethical questions. Definitely the husband and wife team would be in legal trouble, if not opening themselves up to fiscal trouble through a lawsuit. As for the blogger, I don't know how much trouble he could legally be in if he didn't request or pay for the information to be illegally collected.

That being said, why would a blogger post that information anyway? Unless we are talking about a government official or something, where does the public interest lie? It would definitely be ethically questionable.

Very well done KP Very well... (Below threshold)

Very well done KP Very well done.

Bill, it's a hypothetical.

Lawsuits all around, then, ... (Below threshold)

Lawsuits all around, then, once the collected damages are securely tucked into the bank, what Laurence said about shooting them all down like rabid dogs.

Did I say something to sugg... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

Did I say something to suggest I didn't believe that?

Since the information was s... (Below threshold)

Since the information was sent to the blogger before receiving a guarantee of nondisclosure, the blogger is justified in outting the person who sent the information and characterizing the information received in public (it might be bad form to detail the information reeceived unless it could be corroborated). In this circumstance, nothing need happen to the blogger - he is reporting that he received information, not that the information is true.

Bill re: why would a blo... (Below threshold)

Bill re: why would a blogger post that information anyway?

I'd gather all three up and... (Below threshold)

I'd gather all three up and force them to live with Anna Nicole Smith for the rest of their lives.

Pwnage!... (Below threshold)


Oh, and a happy dance.... (Below threshold)

Oh, and a happy dance.

(Hat tip - Frnak J.)

Yeah, I was asking a questi... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

Yeah, I was asking a question about the hypothetical. Why would a blogger even do it? It would be like saying, "hypothetically, what would happen if I threw my watch at the ground and it broke?" My first question would be, "why would you want to?"

I presume that none of the... (Below threshold)

I presume that none of the info published about the "you" in the hypo is untrue. If it is, see the law of slander and libel.

[NOTE: All of the following comes from the law of the great State of Georgia. See Caveat at end]

One of Georgia's jurisprudential claims to fame is that it was the first state to recognize or "discover" the tort "Invasion of Privacy". Pavesich v. New England Life Insurance Co., 122 Ga. 190, 50 S.E. 68 ( 1905). You would think this type of tort would have been more likely to have originated in one of the "enlightened"/ "reality based" States, but nope , it's the peach state, ( also inventor of the tort called "Defamacast"-- be glad your server is not based in Locust Grove, GA.)

According to Prof. Prosser, the tort "invasion of privacy" is actually four disparate torts under a common name. These four torts may be described briefly as:

(1) intrusion upon the plaintiff's seclusion or solitude, or into his private affairs;

(2) public disclosure of embarrassing private facts about the plaintiff;

(3) publicity which places the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye;and

(4) appropriation, for the defendant's advantage, of the plaintiff's name or likeness.

Looks to me like your hypothetical case involves elements 1 and 2, unless, the purloined info is false or misleading ,in which case you may have a type 3 privacy claim ( and a defamation case). And-- God forbid! if there are pictures involved in those medical records #4 might come into play.

Discussion of types 1 and 2:

Type 1 privacy cases-- intrusion-- tend to be fact driven and are handled on a case by case basis (down here in Dawg country at least).

RE Type 2 cases --public disclosure of embarrassing private facts about the plaintiff, there are at least three necessary elements for recovery under this theory: (a) the disclosure of private facts must be a public disclosure; (b) the facts disclosed to the public must be private, secluded or secret facts and not public ones; (c) the matter made public must be offensive and objectionable to a reasonable man of ordinary sensibilities under the circumstances.

Another tidbits:

'The right of privacy is not a branch of the law of defamation although it has sometimes been treated as such. Care must be taken not to confuse the two actions. In actions to recover damages for defamation truth is a defense; in actions to recover for invasion of privacy it is not.


Damages in actions of defamation are for an injury to reputation, while damages in actions for invasion of privacy are for injury to one's own feelings. In Georgia at least, in causes of action involving such injury to feelings, sensibilities or reputation, general damages are recoverable without proof of special damages.

To authorize an award of punitive damages for the invasion of the right of privacy, the invasion must be intentional or with knowledge or with malice or wrongful state of mind.

NOTE: If I was the blogger or the plaintiff, I would also look into applicable law regarding claims and defenses) re the tort of " negligent infliction of emotional harm". The neighbor and the wife have bigger problems.
Caveat: All of the above relates to GA law only, not valid in all states or in all courts. THis is not legal advice. YMMV.
The "you" or "I" in the hypothetical is not a public figure, right? If he or she is, other rules will apply.

HTH, Carl

Are you a public figure? Th... (Below threshold)

Are you a public figure? That would determine the outcome of any defamation suits. And is the blogger considered a journalist or not? Some states have statutes protecting "journalists" and they have various definitions of the term (like Delaware, for instance, you work 20 hours/week on it, you're a journalist). Many of those statutes require some kind of malicious intent before any kind of liability is found. So that might be an issue. Certainly the two neighbors would be subject to dismissal from their employer for violating their duties to their employers. And subject to liability probably for the employer's share of the liability, if any.

Are you as the blogger awar... (Below threshold)

Are you as the blogger aware of how the information was obtained by your neighbor?

This is not meant in a humo... (Below threshold)

This is not meant in a humorous sense.

Are the medical and credit reports 'fake, but accurate'?

What other intent in this h... (Below threshold)

What other intent in this hypothetical could there be other than 'malicious'.

If you are walking along with your buddies, and out of no where, one of them decides to steal a car and you jump in the back of the car as well, just to 'go along'. Have you not also committed Grand Theft Auto? I believe you would be (or at least should be!) prosecuted as an accomplice to the crime.

I think I already commented... (Below threshold)

I think I already commented a couple days ago about how I feel about this one..

And if your friend says, "H... (Below threshold)

And if your friend says, "Hey there's my car. Let's take it. You drive." Are you equally guilty?

I gotta side with the vast ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I gotta side with the vast majority here. Violations of privacy of that nature are despicable and illegal, and should be avoided at all times. I don't care how big an asshat is being violated.

I'll steal from James Cobb again. The best reason why you shouldn't do it: "because we're the good guys." We simply DON'T DO those sorts of things. We are the ones who FIGHT those who do them.

I'm reminded of the Nietsche quote about fighting monsters and gazing into the abyss, but I don't have my copy of Watchmen handy here...


I don't know about you guys... (Below threshold)

I don't know about you guys, but I usually know what my friends do and don't drive.

If the friend pulls out a metal door un-locker (federally protected private info) from his pants and shimmies the lock, I would hope bells would be ringing somewhere.

The answer will be determin... (Below threshold)

The answer will be determined on the basis of two definitions. What constitutes a “news reporter” and what constitutes a “medium” though which the information is transmitted.

In Dumez v. Houma Municipal Fiore and Police Civil Service Board, et al., 341 So.2d 1206 (La.Ct.App. 1976), based on LSA-R.S. 45:1451, et seq., “reporter” was defined as any person regularly engaged in the business of collecting, writing or editing news for publication through a “news media.”

However, in People of the State of Colorado v. Henderson, 847 P.2d 239 (Co.Ct.App. 1993), a “newsperson” includes any member of the “mass… .media” who is engaged to gather news information for dissemination to the public. A “source” includes “any means by or though which news information is received.”

In Cukier v. American Medical Association, 630 N.E.2d 1198 (Ill.App. 1994), the court noted the Illinois statute defined “reporter” as any person regularly engaged in the business of collecting, writing or editing news for publication through a ‘news medium” on a full-time or part-time basis.

In Price v. Time, Inc., 304 F.Supp.2d 1294 (N.D.Al 2004), the Alabama Federal District Court noted that a number of states have taken the course of extending the privilege to “any medium of communication to the public.” This is a good case to read and will make you guys feel better about the issue. See also: In the Matter of the Petition of Margena Burnett, 635 A.2d 1019 (NJ.Super. 1993).

Hubby and Wife: You win an ... (Below threshold)
Larry Bernard:

Hubby and Wife: You win an all expenses paid trip to.... THE FEDERAL PEN

yes you will be spending 10-15 year long sentances for each disclosure of the confidential information and at least a 10K dollar fine

Wizbang: I'd say accessory to the crime?

I too know where you are go... (Below threshold)
Opinionated Vogon:

I too know where you are going with this.

But I have to ask regarding your hypothetical case: Is the information you published on your blog there to protect the welfare of the general public i.e. disclosing that I have untreated venereal disease and due to my job I expose/endanger others without their knowledge (yes, I am a pr0n star!). Was your blog entry regarding me stiffing (no pun intended - your choice of words) everyone in town meant as a warning to prevent others from future losses?

Your neighbor and his wife would be liable for their criminal theft of information and possible civil damages.

If you published this information which was truthful to protect other innocents I think you would be lacking in malice or falsehood and be protected by free speech laws.

On the other hand, if you published this knowing it was flase, or with the purposeful intent to do me harm, you would be liable for damages and possibly criminal conspiracy charges as well.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, these are my common sense answers :¬)

Unless the blogger was awar... (Below threshold)

Unless the blogger was aware that the information was stolen and/or false, they should not be prosecuted. If they made money off of the information being revealed, that would change everything. Otherwise, the blogger did not obtain the information in violation of the law, did not profit from publishing it, and was not directly involved in the actions of the neighbor(s). The neighbors should be charged criminally, the institutions should be held accountable through a civil court and should pay damages.

What if, I knew ahead of ti... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

What if, I knew ahead of time that the neighbors had the information and when I confronted them, they signed an agreement with me promising never to reveal it and then handed it over to the blogger?

But Kelli, what proof did P... (Below threshold)

But Kelli, what proof did Paul have that the info given to him by his neighbor was illegally obtained, or as you put it, federally protected public information?

What if Paul's neighbor, Kevin, rings him up and tells him Jay is a walking petri dish of venereal disease. Is that private?

while i think bruce offers<... (Below threshold)

while i think bruce offers
some good precedent, above,
i'd be especially nervous -- if the target is
a private person for purposes of gertz v.
welch or new york times v. sullivan.

the standard -- and thus potentially,
the outcome -- will differ, depending on
whether *cough* esse *cough* is a public
person for the purpose of the matters
in question. and that -- my friend -- will
not be as obvious as one might at first think.

"and in parting, i wish you
love, peace and

s o u u u u u u l l l l l. . . "

-- don cornelius

"one need not live

h i g h . . .

to live well. . .

-- my pops

-- tae, out.

OK, it's after 5:00 so let ... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

OK, it's after 5:00 so let me just say this whole thing seems fruity.

Hey, Julie, would you mind ... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Hey, Julie, would you mind keeping me out of this? ESPECIALLY in that particular context?

I want nothing, NOTHING to do with this one, and I don't care who I gotta kill to keep it that way...


Paul-- You didn't say wh... (Below threshold)

Paul-- You didn't say who is suing Wizbang.
Are the "hating neighbors" the ones who are threatening to sue "Wizbang"? Not much in terms of the equities there-- unclean hands, etc., but I sure would like to read the depositions!

That's not fair because you... (Below threshold)

That's not fair because you already joined the debate before my post. And anyway, I get worse threats then that weekly. But, just to please you, let's make Paul the petri dish and you the blogger and Kevin calls you. What if you knew all the women Paul was having sex with. Let's say, you were even good friends with some of them. Would you inform them of Paul's petri dish status? If not why not?

Paul has sex with women?</p... (Below threshold)

Paul has sex with women?

I find that surprising in itself.

Really, the best course is ... (Below threshold)

Really, the best course is to toss the mess to the cops and tell them you received the information unsolicited.
This does a couple of things.

1. It puts the matter in the hands of a competent authority to decide how serious these offenses are. You relieve yourself of the burden of making a judgment - and perhaps the wrong one -as to the seriousness of the offense in either legal or ethical terms.
2. It protects you from becoming an 'accomplice' in these (in my opinion) unethical and possibly illegal acts.

This is much better than turning the information over to the person whose records are being released, or contacting the employers of the individuals whom (you believe) gave you this information. This would simply makes you an accuser in something that you became involved in through no choice of your own.

Nothing is to be gained by contacting the releasers directly either. They've already taken the (illegal) action of releasing the documents to you andyou don't know if they've released this to others or not.
You could never safely assume that they would retract their actions... you'd eventually be implicated in having had the info and not reported them.
Doing nothing at all is not an option, for the same reasons.

I see now that I completely... (Below threshold)

I see now that I completely missed the overview, um, suggestions here...much as I have, apparently, also missed other things. Eeeuuuwwww.

Why would the police care? ... (Below threshold)
Richard Heddleson:

Why would the police care? What criminal act has occurred?

I gotta add some harping he... (Below threshold)

I gotta add some harping here, however, or, perhaps, more of it: I think that bloggers have to exercise the same level of discretion in the content they publish as they do in other areas of their lives (many do not). Meaning, if you hear information about whoever and you wouldn't consider standing in your local grocery store yelling it out to all and anyone in your neighborhood who knows who it is you're referring to, *just because,* then you shouldn't also write about it on a website that is available to uncounted billions of readers at will.

And, everyone has skeletons in the closet. Blogs have a way of making one skeleton in one closet look a bit unusual, while what it is is that it is only unusual that there are not more than one.

Richard Heddleson: well, s... (Below threshold)

Richard Heddleson: well, someone intentionally inflicting economic harms on another to the extent that Paul was alluding to -- the medical record information can contribute to someone being denied all sorts of normal or customary economic helps and relationships, much less threatening employment capacity and fitness, things of that nature -- seems to pose a problem that's certainly violent in nature. And, that indicates that they've crossed a line of reason to a degree such that they ought to be considered capable of further aggression...meaning, they're a problem, pose a potential problem to one's safety, and have already, and should be regarded with caution by any reasonably aware person.

jmaster: Super-models, that... (Below threshold)

jmaster: Super-models, that's why all the stds.

Let me throw out an educate... (Below threshold)

Let me throw out an educated guess: People think they have many more rights and recourses under the law then they actually do.

S: I agree with Richard. I ... (Below threshold)

S: I agree with Richard. I can think of no criminal statutes that have been violated.

What if the neighbors come ... (Below threshold)

What if the neighbors come over and ask Paul nicely, “Paul, where did you get this confidential information? Just tell us the truth, and we promise we won’t pursue charges against you.”

Paul can respond: “How very considerate of you. I was given the information by your two neighbors. I assume you will now take this issue up with them.”

Or he can say “Blow it out your polyp infested ass, herpes boy! I ain’t squealing!”. And then he makes another blog post titled “Wealthy Neighbors Try to Silence Blogger with Harrassing Subpoena!”.

What’s Paul’s liability in each case?

In the first case the two n... (Below threshold)
Richard Heddleson:

In the first case the two neighbors trash his house. In the second the neighbor, (Jay Tea) trashes his house.

This sounds like the Limbau... (Below threshold)

This sounds like the Limbaugh case in Florida.

Ok, color me clueless, but ... (Below threshold)
Bud Tugley:

Ok, color me clueless, but what is this all about anyway?

FWIW, at a minimum, the blogger would be a dick for publishing obviously private info. I don't care if it's Michael Moore's anal warts we are talking about here, it's still below-the-belt. And, in a free information market, the blogger would suffer the consequenses of his/her readership realizing he/she is an asshat for displaying such behaviour. Click,click. Delete from Bookmarks.

The other two players in this little tragedy should be tarred and feathered. Ah...for the good old days of justice...just my .02

It's almost 5:00 Pacific. D... (Below threshold)
Richard Heddleson:

It's almost 5:00 Pacific. Don't you have your follow up ready so that Bud's misery can end? Let's just get to the core of the issue.

julie: I haven't written h... (Below threshold)

julie: I haven't written here that 'criminal statutes were violated,' just that the behavior indicates a threat that shouldn't be ignored. I think it'd merit at least asking to file a Report/Complaint about those involved and then seeking a TRO based upon what's already transpired, or, that we are all *imagining* has happened.

Yeah, what Richard Heddleso... (Below threshold)

Yeah, what Richard Heddleson wrote (^^). What's the deal, here, Paul? Or, perhaps JayTea can write on Paul's behalf, 'case he's in jail er sumpin' by now.

Yes, the seed of an idea is... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

Yes, the seed of an idea is germenating. One wonders into what it will grow.

If it's not a criminal matt... (Below threshold)

If it's not a criminal matter, the police shouldn't be bothered with it. It's a civil matter.

Julie,Sorry for my n... (Below threshold)

Sorry for my non-response, I spilled diet coke on my keyboard and my hubby just brought home a new one..oops.

Anyway, friends gossipping among friends is just bad judgement/morals. The point i is that if anyone working with patients' medical records divulge that information to anyone, it is in violation of HIPPA. Some would say that any healthcare professional talking about anyone's health info (friend or client) would be highly unprofessional in this new HIPPA climate.

It is important to the hypothetical that the sensitive information is derived from the place of employment.

julie: I realize that. Bu... (Below threshold)

julie: I realize that. But, these are the reasons that persons making threats against others, and implementing acts that threaten others, need to come under greater scrutiny. And do if you are persistent and the issues are presented clearly. I realize what you are saying as to the academics and your academic perspective, I am referring to something else entirely. And that is, that, if a threat exists -- what Paul has descrived certainly is -- anyone targeted shouldn't be discouraged by an iron clad academic dismissal but should pursue all available options to protect themselves.

Civil, yes, I agree. So far. You can make a case, however, if the threat is measurable and should. Civil issues can and do become criminal matters when "neighbors" are determined to "hate" to such an extent that they abandon civility in search of vengeance and the behavior POSES a threat, poses POTENTIAL for criminal activity -- you're referring from a bench position, I'm referring from a behavioral and common sense one, just saying, take these sorts of threats seriously, discuss them with people who should be aware of a problem and the potential for a problem to become worse and meanwhile, take it up with counsel as to other means to bring stops to damages underway and prevent further damages from occuring.

But, saying that "the polic... (Below threshold)

But, saying that "the police shouldn't be bothered with it" is like saying to someone in a boat at sea with one oar, "don't bother rowing."

Once the blogger released t... (Below threshold)

Once the blogger released the information to the public about this person, it then became illegal. All four infringed on this man's constitutional rights. Even the police can't do that without procedure, warrants, trial, etc.

As to a lawsuit, that would depend upon the man. If he's stiffed everyone in town, he might go for a civil lawsuit but might not get anywhere. Now if the person was like me, I wouldn't file lawsuits, so that all depends on the man's personality.

the first 3 neighbors should not have done what they did - ie privacy act and if left alone, nothing would have happened. once they got together, it became an illegal act and once it was printed for the world to see, the blogger became part of the illegal pact.

How did you find out it was... (Below threshold)

How did you find out it was the neighbors? Did the blogger rat them out?

Posted by: Mrs. Davis at January 14, 2005 01:03 PM

This is easy. The three neighbors came to the blogger (or reporter) each with their information at the same time about their hated neighbor.

Kelli: Let's say b... (Below threshold)


Let's say before you married, you worked in the medical records dept. of a hospital. One day, you see the name of your bf's ex. You know she is an inpatient and that she has been in the hospital for a while. As an employee, you do have occassion to go into patient's records, but really no reason to go into hers. You do so anyway. You read that she has drug resistant advanced gonorrhea. You also read that she names your bf as her sexual contact. What, if anything do you do with that information?

Julie,The law mandat... (Below threshold)

The law mandates that I tell no one.

The next day I'm at my doctor's office getting treated and my boyfriend will become my ex. I could never tell him what I knew and how I knew it. I would be so disgusted w/ the STD, I would figure good riddance.

S: There is nothing academi... (Below threshold)

S: There is nothing academic about it. Neighbors obtain private medical and financial info and give it to a third party who made it public. Where is the criminal threat? The police deal with crimes. There is no evidence of extortion. And there is no evidence of a criminal threat which involves a threat of physical harm and is immediate and non-conditional.

Maybe a better choice of words is that the police won't be bothered with it because no crime has been committed.

Kelli: You told your doctor... (Below threshold)

Kelli: You told your doctor. And a week after you kick the bum out, he starts dating your sister. What do you do?

Julie,I would say:... (Below threshold)


I would say:
"Look, the bum gave me gonorrhea. I would advise you to stay the heck away from him."

Good. We're moving forward ... (Below threshold)

Good. We're moving forward here. You broke the law and your own previously stated code of ethics. But, no problem, I'm with you on this. But, your sister confronts your ex who denies it vehemently. He sues you for defamation. Now, of course, truth is a defense. But, your GC test came back negative bc he was treated before he hooked up with you. Unfortunatley, he never bothered to tell his ex-gf to go get treated. And because gc is often initially symptomless in women, her disease progressed to the point she is both sterile, artheritic, and hospitalized. But enough about her. We have to concentrate on what you are going to say in your deposition. What are you going to say?

Release of protect informat... (Below threshold)
Larry Bernard:

Release of protect information Under HIPAA means "Youc an go to jail"

First off, discussing my ow... (Below threshold)

First off, discussing my own health record and saying who I believe I got something from on a personal basis is not against the law. I could never say what I had learned on the job. If it ever came to the point of a deposition, I would think that all health records would be on the table, or at least his and mine. I highly doubt a judge/jury would penalize me for trying to protect my sister from a disease executed under the above circumstances.

So when is the big secret gonna get revealed? Is this a tease or what....I'm about ready to spill the beans here!!

Larry: See earlier post by ... (Below threshold)

Larry: See earlier post by Paul. HIPAA “off the table.”

Kelli: Okay, but both his and your medical records indicate you are negative. The ex, of course, is not going to reveal that he was treated for gc at a neighborhood clinic under gave a false name. Unfortunately, protecting your sister is not a defense. Your ex testifies that he dumped you and that you spread the lie that he had gc merely out of spite.

So when is the big secret gonna get revealed? Is this a tease or what....I'm about ready to spill the beans here!!

Beats me. If you know, TALK!

Julie,I want out of ... (Below threshold)

I want out of this soap opera!!!

Beats me. If you know, TALK!

Well first off, I only have my extraordinarily strong suspicions and secondly, this ain't my party to call.

Maybe Paul shoud start anot... (Below threshold)

Maybe Paul shoud start another thread for guesses on the true premise of this thread. ;)

Julie, Did ... (Below threshold)


Did you attend GW?

Well, I’m just now checking... (Below threshold)

Well, I’m just now checking back in. And I see no answer to this riddle.

And I find that Paul has been having sex with super models.( I missed that earlier)


Damn. I gotta get me a blog……

I assume GW is the univers... (Below threshold)

I assume GW is the university -- no.

Come on, Paul. Some think t... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:

Come on, Paul. Some think they've figured it out, others have given up. What's it all about? Cupertino?

Alright, now that it's past... (Below threshold)
Opinionated Vogon:

Alright, now that it's past your deadline, I have to ask... Is this whole scenario about the leaked information about Apple's new mini mac? Is the website/blog in your analogy a rumor site that posted information/photos about an unreleased product that was obtained in violation of standing nondisclosure agreements? Are you trying to determine if the publishing website is breaking the law and liable for criminal/civil penalties?

I think (if above is correct) that the website is not culpable for the theft of the property but is profiting using Apple's intellectual property without their permission. Once notified of the violation they must remove the information. The entity that broke the non disclosure agreement is also liable for damages if it can be proven they were the source.

How'd I do? :¬)

OVWow, you must be... (Below threshold)
Mrs. Davis:


Wow, you must be a PC user!

And you're still typing thi... (Below threshold)

And you're still typing this on a Mac?

julie: I use and did use t... (Below threshold)

julie: I use and did use the word, "academic" in this case to specify/identify your literal definitioins and references. Meaning, you are correct in a literal ("academic" or "by the book") definition -- as good legal counsel is expected to be, even to obtain much less retain licensing -- sense but what I am referring to is a behavioral one.

If someone, ANYone behaves as such and it's exposed (made known to anyone else, particularly to whoever is being targeted by the behavior), then it is wise to regard that behavior and whoever is responsible for it, past, present and future, as posing a threat to one's well being.

There are many, many people who regard the "if it's not illegal, it's alright to do it" standard and particularly do so in areas of commercial interest and gain, AND, who apply a testing of what is "legal" and what is not to such an extent (as in this example) as to pose a real threat to others without ever actually being "illegal" and/or "criminal" where law enforcement is concerned. Violations of a civil nature almost always include an area of behavior having been done and often quite wilfully by whomever about whomever that is never prosecutable per se, but is certainly an indication of social/economic/evenphysical harms, at least the promise of such.

Such that, a lot that isn't immediately "criminal" by-the-book level of examination, such as your iron clad definitions here (respected and respectable, just that I have attempted to make other points above and beyond those made by you), but it certainly poses a potential for harm, if not actual harms (and, therefore, I labelled that "threatening" and/or an indication of a "threat").

And, these are the issues in life that many in business and in their personal and familial lives work to counter. They may not get a local police force to issue a warrant or such, but, oftentimes, most of this sort of thing is actually of interest to law enforcement, and should be.

Ask any cop. They don't want the extra work so much as they do find it helpful to be aware of what's taking place, by whom and why. Worth reporting, is my suggestion, for the sake of letting it be known what's happened.

And, on a behavioral level alone, before we even approach the inclusion of law enforcement and/or civil proceedings to protect and confront and remedy harms done (which has taken place in this scenario as reported by Paul, here), it's a wise person who can perceive a bad influence and work to protect themselves and those they love from further exposure to those harms, even if it is still in "potential" stage of development.

That's my point, my only point.

As to the employer(s) involved, they become liable for their employees' unethical works, and just dismissing employees involved does not, not at all, dismiss the employer(s) from liability. Far from it.

They get sued, their employees get sued...everyone is harmed here by this sort of threatening and quite awful behavior by those that otherwise are to be assumed to be trustworthy. I realize that law enforcement isn't there to handle unethical behaviors and bad characters in general, I would certainly consider filing a police report about the employee behavior, should I be the employer. Then I'd make a meeting/many meetings afterward with my insurance carrier and legal counsel, theirs and mine.

S: The issue was whether th... (Below threshold)

S: The issue was whether the police should be called on civil matters. Those weren't academic definitions, they were statutory ones. You can slice, dice, & regard it anyway you want, but if no crime was committed, there is nothing the police can do. One can create work for them by demanding they take a report, but it will age on someone's desk until a prosecutor writes on it: REJECT -- CIVIL MATTER, and into a storage box and off to a wherehouse it goes. Don't mistake law enforcement's courtesy as interest. They are not.

Actually, isn't that what D... (Below threshold)

Actually, isn't that what DAN RATHER did???


Actually I believe that Dan... (Below threshold)
Rodney Dill:

Actually I believe that Dan Rather presented 'manufactured' information that he could not verify as true and did not really to attempt to verify as true. Of course its slightly possible that he believed that is was 'true' stolen informaton, instead of just lies, but I'm not sure the distinction is that important.






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