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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I have been going to Valley Mental Health in Utah past 6

Customer Question

I have been going to Valley Mental Health in Utah for the past 6 years. I went there to talk to psychiatrists and/or therapists dealing with the frustrations and anger that my son's mother and her parents have relentlessly pursued to alienate my intellectually disabled son from me. During this time, I disclosed every personal and private information about my life from when I was a little boy til now. I was told by the fiirst psychiatrist I saw that every thing I disclosed would be held in the strictist of confidentially. And that my file would not be released, even with a subpoena, unless I gave them permission. An incident happened in July for which required my exwife and I to retain lawyers. The opposing counsel served a subpoena to Valley Mental Health, Records Department, to have all of my records released to her. VMH released ALL of my records to opposing counsel. This contained extremely sensitive and personal information about me, my childhood, my parents, etc, which were not Germaine to the incident in July. I am very upset about this.
I feel my HIPPA rights were egregiously violated and I want to know if I have the grounds to sue Valley Mental Health. I don't want them to be just scolded by a judge, I want them to be punished financially and have this HIPPA violation written about in the paper. Thank you, Robert
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 11 months ago.

Dear Customer,

I am very sorry to learn about this situation.

Unfortunately, the way a subpoena works is that the opposing party can issue the subpoena, and the responding party has a duty to respond to it.

However, with records (especially mental health records), the opposing party is entitled to oppose the subpoena (it is called a "motion to quash") based on lack of relevance, and any other appropriate objections.

This motion is made after the subpoena is served, but before the documents are actually produced.

You say that both you and your wife retained counsel for this matter. You may actually have a legal malpractice claim against your attorney for failing to properly respond to this subpoena.

(The health clinic is only responsible for responding to the subpoena - and not disclosing the information if an appropriate objection is filed, in which case they hold the records pending the decision by the Court).

  • Legal malpractice cases are based almost entirely on expert testimony. You must not only find an attorney to act as an expert witness regarding the standard of care for your prior lawyer (to prove the "negligence" elements of the case), but also an attorney expert (and potentially other experts) to testify regarding the underlying claim (you must prove that absent the attorney's malpractice you would have achieved a better result - often termed "the case within the case").
  • Due to the complexity of these claims, I highly recommend that you retain a legal malpractice plaintiff's lawyer (also called trial attorneys). Fortunately the majority of these attorneys will provide you with a free consultation, and many will represent you on a contingency basis (they will advance the costs of litigation and legal services in exchange for a portion of your successful settlement or judgment).
  • You can find local attorneys using the State and Local Bar Association directories, or private directories such as www.AVVO.com; www.FindLaw.com; or www.Martindale.com (I personally find www.AVVO.com to be the most user friendly).

Your issue would be relatively straightforward - your attorney failed to file a routine "Motion to Quash" when they should have, but I would still recommend speaking to a local malpractice lawyer.

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