September 3, 2015

Jury Clears UC Regents of Privacy Breach

Munger, Tolles & Olson obtained a jury verdict for The Regents of the University of California after the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Health System was accused of breaching a woman’s medical privacy by negligently releasing her medical records.

Plaintiff Norma Lozano sought more than $1.25 million in damages after an employee of a physician affiliated with, but not employed by, the UCLA Health System had accessed plaintiff’s medical information in UCLA’s electronic health-records system, after the physician had shared his log-in credentials with his staff in violation of UCLA policies, and the physician’s employee had sent the information to outside parties. Plaintiff alleged that UCLA had negligently released her medical records, causing her severe emotional distress.

Following a seven-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court and a brief deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict for UCLA on Sept. 3, 2015, finding that UCLA did not release the plaintiff’s medical records in violation of California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.

“We are pleased that the jury recognized that UCLA Health System’s policies concerning electronic medical records strike the right balance between protecting patient privacy and providing our patients with world-class medical care,” UCLA said in a statement after the verdict.

The UC Regents defense team included Bradley S. Phillips and Bryan H. Heckenlively. Mr. Heckenlively, an associate, served as first chair at the jury trial. 

"We are gratified that the jury paid such close attention throughout the trial, considered the evidence carefully, and correctly recognized that any release of information was the product of Dr. Edwards' breaking UCLA’s rules and Alexies Price intending to do something malicious,” Mr. Heckenlively told the Daily Journal following the verdict.