Jason Pierre-Paul and ESPN reach settlement in HIPAA-related lawsuit

The New York Giants player filed suit against the television network after a reporter tweeted out a picture of his hospital record after a fireworks accident. 
By Jack McCarthy
06:55 AM
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Jason Pierre-Paul ESPN HIPAA

Photo by Mike Morbeck, Wikimedia Commons

New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has settled a lawsuit against ESPN and reporter Adam Schefter related to a possible violation of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws.

Pierre-Paul filed the lawsuit last year after Schefter, an ESPN reporter, tweeted out a picture of the football player’s hospital records following a firework accident.

The tweet included a chart from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami describing the injury. Pierre-Paul was injured in a July 4, 2015 fireworks incident that caused him to lose his index finger and damage his hand.

“ESPN continues to firmly believe that its reporting about Mr. Pierre-Paul’s July 2015 injury, including the use of a medical chart that definitively described the seriousness of the injury and resulting treatment, was both newsworthy and journalistically appropriate,” the network stated. “Despite their different points of view, the parties have agreed to amicably resolve their dispute rather than continue their litigation.”

HIPAA prohibits the release of anyone’s health care records without that person’s written consent and establishes penalties for unauthorized release by health care providers.

The records "should not be released without his explicit consent," said Arthur Caplan, the director of the medical ethics division at NYU's Langone Medical Center, when Pierre-Paul’s records were publicized. However, reporters aren’t covered by HIPAA.

Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit alleged he and ESPN showed “blatant disregard for the private and confidential nature of plaintiff’s medical records, all so Schefter could show the world that he had ‘supporting proof’ of a surgical procedure.”

In February, 2016, administrators at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital fired two employees, an operating room nurse and a secretary, for accessing the information in violation of federal patient privacy laws. In July, one of the fired employees, a secretary, sued Miami-Dade’s public hospital network, denying she accessed the private information and saying her former employer defamed and libeled her.