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Bowles v. Apro International, Inc.

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

July 15, 2019

MARIAH DIANE BOWLES, Plaintiff,
v.
APRO INTERNATIONAL INC. INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, et al., Defendants,

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and Apro International, Inc.'s Motions to Dismiss [Doc. Nos. 18 and 34, respectively]. Plaintiff opposes the Motions, which have been fully briefed. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions to Dismiss are granted.

         Facts and Background [1]

         In her Complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following:

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant APRO International Inc. overseas in Afghanistan from September 2, 2012 to March 28, 2013 as a Medical Supply Specialist/Warehouse Specialist. 20. Plaintiff worked in a medical warehouse situated in the flight line for medical evacuation helicopters delivering wounded soldiers to a hospital located next door to the warehouse. During Plaintiff's 12-hour shifts, helicopters would fly past the warehouse or land in front of it depending on how many helicopters were landing with wounded soldiers.

         Because Plaintiff worked in a medical supply warehouse located next door to a hospital treating wounded soldiers, she frequently witnessed casualties. While working for APRO in Afghanistan, Plaintiff suffered from tinnitus as a result of her proximity to enemy combatants. Plaintiff's jobsite was subjected to frequent bombings.

         In or around June 2014, Plaintiff began suffering from PTSD as a result of her work with APRO in Afghanistan. Plaintiff was officially diagnosed with PTSD by a psychiatrist on or about August 22, 2014. Thereafter, she was restricted from returning to work in a combat zone.

         Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, (“ICOSP”) was APRO's workers' compensation benefits insurer during the time Plaintiff was employed by APRO. Plaintiff filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 901, et seq. (“Plaintiff's Claim”).

         As part of AIG's[2] and/or ICOSP's investigation of Plaintiff's Claim, Plaintiff was required to meet with various doctors. The purpose of having Plaintiff meet with these doctors was to allow the doctors to conduct medical and psychiatric evaluations to determine whether Plaintiff experienced PTSD as a result of her work for APRO in Afghanistan.

         Plaintiff recalls signing a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act consent form ("HIPAA Consent Form") that was submitted to her by a representative of Defendant AIG. The HIPAA Consent Form authorized AIG to obtain Plaintiff's highly confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records for the sole purpose of allowing AIG to evaluate her workers' compensation claim.

         The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize AIG to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to any third-parties. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize AIG to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to Defendant APRO. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize AIG to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to any of the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Executives. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize AIG to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to any of the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Employees. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize Defendant APRO to obtain or receive Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Executives to obtain or receive Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records. The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Employees to obtain or receive Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records.

         Plaintiff does not believe that she received a separate HIPAA consent form from ICOSP. She does not believe the HIPAA Consent Form names ICOSP. The HIPAA Consent Form did not expressly authorize ICOSP to obtain or receive Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records for the purpose of evaluating her workers' compensation claim.

         Even if the HIPAA Consent Form (or any other HIPAA consent form) authorized ICOSP to review Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records for the purpose of evaluating her workers' compensation claim, the HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize ICOSP to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to any third-parties.

         The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize ICOSP to provide Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records to Defendant APRO, any of the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Executives, Defendant APRO Employees.

         The HIPAA Consent Form did not authorize Defendant APRO, the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Executives, or the JOHN or JANE DOE Defendant APRO Employees to obtain or receive Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment and evaluation records.

         Even if Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim would have allowed AIG and/or ICOSP to obtain her confidential medical and mental health treatment records for the purpose of evaluating her workers' compensation claim, her submission of a workers' compensation claim would not have authorized or allowed Defendant APRO, the Defendant JANE DOE or JOHN DOE Executives employed by APRO, or the Defendant JANE DOE or JOHN DOE Employees to obtain or receive knowledge of Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment records.

         Even if Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim would have allowed AIG and/or ICOSP to obtain her confidential medical and mental health treatment records for the purpose of evaluating her workers' compensation claim, her submission of a workers' compensation claim would not have authorized or allowed the Defendant JANE DOE or JOHN DOE Executives or JANE DOE or JOHN DOE employees to have knowledge of Plaintiff's confidential medical and mental health treatment records.

         The disclosure of Plaintiff's personal medical and mental health information involved the disclosure of highly confidential medical and mental health information. As part of AIG and/or ICOSP's investigation of Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim, Plaintiff was required to identify and discuss highly personal medical and mental health related information that she would not have disclosed to any other individuals. Plaintiff expected that her disclosures of highly personal medical and mental health related information pursuant to AIG's investigation of her workers' compensation claim would be maintained on a confidential basis with her medical and mental health providers and the medical and mental health providers that she met. Plaintiff expected that her disclosures of highly personal medical and mental health related information to AIG pursuant to AIG's investigation of her workers' compensation claim would be maintained by AIG on a confidential basis.

         To the extent ICOSP investigated Plaintiff's workers' compensation claim, Plaintiff expected that her disclosures of highly personal medical and mental health related ...


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