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Cutts v. St. Louis County Dept. of Health

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

April 22, 2015

JOHN R. CUTTS, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY DEPT. OF HEALTH, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

RONNIE L. WHITE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. The motion will be granted. Additionally, having reviewed the case, the Court will dismiss it under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis in either law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

The Complaint

In his pro se complaint against the St. Louis County Health Department, plaintiff asserts generally a violation of his "privacy rights" pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Plaintiff states that the Health Department "allowed unauthorized access" of his medical records to an unnamed female worker who transferred an electronic copy of his medical records to her private email account. He seeks monetary relief in an amount of $2 million dollars.

Discussion

To state a claim against a municipality or a government official in his or her official capacity, plaintiff must allege that a policy or custom of the government entity is responsible for the alleged constitutional violation. Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978). The instant complaint does not contain any allegations that a policy or custom of a government entity was responsible for the alleged violations of plaintiffs constitutional rights. Rather, plaintiff alleges plainly that an unnamed employee is responsible for the alleged violation. As a result, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

Moreover, the Court notes that plaintiff cannot bring a claim for relief under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA"). HIPAA does not provide for a private right of action for improper disclosures of medical information. Rather, it limits enforcement of the statute to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. See Dodd v. Jones, 623 F.3d 563, 569 (8 th Cir. 2010) ; Acara v. Banks. 470 F.3d 569, 570-72 (5th Cir. 2006).

Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to proceed in forma pauperis [Doc. #2] is GRANTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this action is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).


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