Last year, the New York Giants’ defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul blew up his hand in a fireworks accident. The hand was severely damaged, and one of his fingers was amputated.
That being said, coverage of the fireworks accident and whether Pierre-Paul would suffer any significant career-threatening or career-ending damage to his hand was the talk of the sports media world. A few days after the accident, ESPN’s Adam Schefter was able to get a screenshot of the hospital records regarding Pierre-Paul’s surgery and amputation. He later tweeted a photo of the records.
ESPN obtained medical charts that show Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul had right index finger amputated today. pic.twitter.com/VI5cbS1uCw
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 8, 2015
But here’s the problem. Neither Adam Schefter nor ESPN had the right to provide that information to the public without the expressed consent of Jason Pierre-Paul. In other words, Schefter and/or ESPN and/or the hospital workers who provided that information to Schefter and/or ESPN, all may have violated Jason Pierre-Paul’s privacy rights under HIPAA.
If you haven’t heard of HIPAA, it’s the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which basically states that a person’s medical records are to be kept private. In other words, whatever you’re in the hospital for is your own business, and not to be reported to your employer or your insurance provider or to the media or whatnot without your permission.
Today, the New York Post reported that Pierre-Paul has filed a lawsuit against Schefter and ESPN for violating his privacy rights regarding the above tweet. Pierre-Paul is seeking $15,000 in damages from both parties.
Deadspin included a copy of the filed lawsuit in its coverage of the story; that same copy is posted below.
Deadspin also reported that the two hospital employees who allowed Schefter to take a picture of the medical form have been fired from their jobs, and the hospital has also settled a separate lawsuit filed against it.
There are two arguments here. One is that because Jason Pierre-Paul is a public figure, a professional football player, that this is newsworthy and the reporter was just trying to do his job. The other argument is that Jason Pierre-Paul was in the hospital and should be allowed his privacy regarding any medical procedure, diagnosis or result.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Comments below.