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What legal recourse do I have against a former teacher violating my special education son's HIPAA rights?

Memphis, TN |

My 18 year old special education son's former elementary teacher came to my job and began arguing about letters of complaint that I had written about her years ago. She has held a grudge and retaliated by writing an untruthful letter to my employer about how she was treated at my place of business. She visciously disclosed his medical history and private information on his mental disabilty. Could you please tell me what legal recourse I have because I know that that information can never be legally disclosed without my or his permission. Thank you so much.

Attorney Answers 2


You need to contact a personal injury attorney who handles defamation cases. The HIPAA violation (If any, as it is unclear as to how a teacher is a covered entity)unfortunately does not provide you a tort cause of action, as individuals may not sue under HIPAA but report the violation to DHHS . Are you certain that the information was not gennerally known to other students or parents? Are sure you shared it with no one else? Once the information is shared with someone other than a parent or provider, it is much more difficult to argue that it was confidential.

Having said that, you may prove the false statements harmed you, However you will have the burden of quantifying those damages (asusming this did not result in your dismissal or a negative action taken against you at work), which will likely involve retaining an expert accountant or economist, on top of the attorney.

Good luck.

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If your employer recognizes this woman as a crank and is not putting you at any risk in your employment, you will eventually just need to let this go. It is very unlikely that she has the kind of assets that would make a defamation case cost-effective. They are expensive (a hundred grand easily, if defended) and they can take years to finish. It does not seem that you have those resources or the kind of damages that would make this a contingency case for a defamation attorney.

If she is still teaching, you may want to make an administrative complaint for her unprofessional conduct with her employing district and with your state teacher-licensing or credentialing agency. Both of those entities should be concerned about her conduct. In fact, if she is still employed by a school district, talk with a defamation attorney about a claim against the school for her conduct. it is not likely to go anywhere as a defamation case, but a lawyer letter may cause her employer to constrain her very resoundingly.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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