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A.J.
A.J., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 4296
Experience:  Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
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I am a transgendered person, f to m. I had someone take photos

Customer Question

I am a transgendered person, f to m. I had someone take photos of my torso as I was having the top surgery done(breast removal) as the doctor who was doing the surgery was in FL and needed to have the pictures faxed in preparation for the operation. I found out this person is showing my pictures of my naked torso on the internet. All you have to do is google this guy's name and my pictures come up. What can I do legally to get this stopped, as it's causing me pain and much distress? I'm very depressed and disturbed by this and cannot sleep at all, nor can I work at this time. I'm so afraid someone who knows me will see this eventually and nobody knows I'm a transsexual. This could especially harm me at work as I'm a truckdriver. Please help me. He tells my name and the reason for the scar down my abdomen being due to surgery for an ovarian cyst.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Hello, and thank you for using Just Answer. My name isXXXXX am a personal injury law professional and I look forward to answering your question this afternoon.

I am terribly sorry to hear that a physician has violated your trust in this way. There are a few different approaches a person can take in such a situation, none of which are fool proof but each of which may help resolve the problem.

First, communicating with the doctor in question, preferrably in writing, demanding that the pictures be taken off of the internet, and that if they are not you will take legal action, is one option. Preferrably an attorney would write such a demand letter if possible. Should the physician refuse to take the pictures down, you would arguably have the right to file suit against the physician (and this should be raised in the letter) both for medical malpractice, and the tort (civil action) of "public disclosure of private facts". Someone commits the common law tort of "public disclosure of private facts" when they make a disclosure of private facts about the plaintiff that the plaintiff would reasonably find to be "offensive". This tort is recognized by the courts of the state of California, and thus a physician may be liable where such private information (particularly photographs) are revealed for public consumption. As a part of this tort action, one type of remedy that you could seek through the court would be an injunction requiring that the pictures be taken down.

The second option, if the physician is unwilling to take the pictures down, would be to file a complaint against the physician with the Medical Board of California, who is responsible for licensing and disciplining physicians. For detailed instructions on how to file a complaint, go to:

http://www.mbc.ca.gov/consumer/Index.html

So, in short, hopefully making the physician aware that you are willing to take legal action if they do not take the pictures down, will be enough to resolve the issue. However, if not, you could choose to file a civil lawsuit against the physician, file a complaint with the Medical Board of California, or both. Prior to taking any action, it would of course be prudent to sit down with an attorney licensed in California to discuss sending a demand letter in confidence. For a referral to an attorney in California, the state bar association has a referral service at:

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/LawyerReferralServicesLRS.aspx

I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any additional questions or require any clarification of my answer. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer so that I can receive credit for my work.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

No, it wasn't the physician who's violated me, it was a friend of mine I had take the pictures for the doctor.

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
Ah, ok, that certainly does change the situation somewhat (although one of the torts still would apply).

Instead of seeking a remedy from the physician then (my apologies for misunderstanding the situation), you would seek the same remedies from the individual who posted the picutres. The tort (which again means a civil action) I mentioned above "Public Disclosure of Private Facts" can be used against anyone, not just a physician. So, the same basic principle would still be applied, demanding that the pictures be taken off of the internet, or you will take legal action for "Public Disclosure of Private Facts", for which you could seek both money damages and an injunction requiring removal of the pictures. Often, a demand letter (or even a phone call) is enough to resolve the problem, particularly if the demand comes from an attorney. However, it is important to know that you can file suit for public disclosure of private facts should this person refuse, and if the court sides with you, have the pictures taken down.

In addition, you could also try seeking a temporary restraining order and then an injunction asking that the court require the pictures be taken down, without even suing in the first place. In order to do so, you would have to show danger of immediate harm (harm to reputation or professional opportunities should be enough) should the court not act. Although the California Courts do have a very good self-help website (http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp.htm), neither a civil suit or seeking a restraining order and injunction are a simple endeavor, and seeking the assistance of an attorney in doing so would be prudent. If cost is a concern, the courts do provide information on finding free or low cost legal assistance at:

http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-lowcosthelp.htm

I hope this helps further, but let me know if you need any additional information or if I have failed to address any of your concerns, I am happy to keep chatting. Otherwise, please remember to RATE my answer so that I can receive credit for my work.
A.J., Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 4296
Experience: Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA
A.J. and 4 other Personal Injury Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you, A.J. Just one more question. Is it true it's a felony to violate someone's medical privacy e.g. what he's doing by showing my scar and writing on there that it's due to the surgery for an ovarian cyst?

Expert:  A.J. replied 1 year ago.
My pleasure. Unfortunately, criminal law is outside of my area of knowledge. I am not familiar with any particular felony that this would cover, but it would be best to ask someone on the criminal side of the law this question (my focus is on the civil side, such as tort claims discussed above). There is a criminal law section of this website if you would like to ask a question there. Otherwise, raising this question with a criminal law attorney locally would be an option as well.

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A.J.
A.J.
Personal Injury Lawyer
4296 Satisfied Customers
Licensed to practice law, I gained experience in personal injury law working for the CTA