Privacy of Medical Records

Recently, I received in the mail a notification about a class action lawsuit regarding the prescription drug modafinil. Anyone who bought modafinil between 2006 and 2012 it is entitled to receive money from a settlement in the lawsuit. I have had a modafinil prescription for several years and, no doubt, I am entitled to participate in the settlement and receive some amount of money from it. I wonder, though, how they found out about my prescription. Medical records are supposed to be highly confidential. In many instances, it’s like pulling hen’s teeth when I want to get information from my own records. How did some lawyers I’ve never heard of get my name and address as a person who has bought modafinil? How did they do it without my knowledge? I suppose my modafinil prescription is now a matter of public record, since the lawyers involved in the settlement are no doubt required to file with the court a statement certifying that they gave notice of the settlement to a list of named people who were determined to have been modafinil users or purchasers. I’m not sure which is more unsettling, that I got overcharged for the drug, or that lawyers I don’t know were able to find out I used or bought a certain drug.

A Little Justice

Pulled into the parking garage by the office today figuring to park in one of my usual spots. Got there and found a VW parked smack on top of the line, taking out both my favorite spaces. So I parked down the line and planned to get on the YouParkLikeAnAsshole website when I got to the office, to print out one of their YouParkLikeAnAsshole tickets. But, when I got out of the car I noticed the meter maid marking tires. Thought I’d ask her if it was actually a ticketable offense to park like that. I caught up to her as she was approaching the VW. She asked if it was mine. I told her, “Hell no” and asked if she was going to give it a ticket. “Yep”, she answered. “Cool,” I said, “I hate when people park like that.” “Me, too,” she said. I skipped the YouParkLikeAnAsshole ticket. The real thing was much more satisfying. Later I realized I should’ve used my phone to get a picture for the YouParkLikeAnAsshole website; but, when I got back it was gone.

Down With Frivolous Lawsuits

This is in keeping with earlier promise to post more articles. One of things that has contributed to my “burn-out” as an attorney is the escalation in the number of frivolous (or at least what I consider to be frivolous) lawsuits. They’re the ones filed by people (their lawyers, actually, who I think serve their own ends by talking their clients into filing these things) to gain advantage in a business situation. Rather than negotiate fairly, rather than accept what should otherwise shake out from arm’s length bargaining, they sue you (well, your client). Of course, there are those lawyers who accept this with glee. When I accuse another attorney of just using litigation as harassment to gain some advantage despite the lack of real merit, I often hear the retort, “What are you complaining about? You’ll make lots of fees off this.” Well, sorry, but I haven’t yet adopted the lawyering business model whose mission statement is something like, “Do whatever it takes to soak the most fees from the client.”

So, it was with some measure of glee and satisfaction that I read about the recent ruling in one of the lawsuits against Google. While this doesn’t pertain to oil and gas, it exemplifies the sort of litigation I’m seeing way too often in oil and gas litigation (frivolous), and the kind of judicial attitude (willingness to impose sanctions) I’m seeing way to little of. For lack of better links, I’m going to refer you to this article in Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog. I’ve borrowed his links to pdf files of the opinion dismissing the suit and the opinion granting sanctions, which I admittedly have yet to read. I hope the actual opinions are as good as the reporting makes them out to be.

In my experience, getting a judge to impose sanctions is like pulling hen’s teeth. I always hear, “Well, counsel, their position was a bit of a stretch but I can’t say it was completely and totally without an arguable issue; ergo, can’t rule it was frivolous so your request for attorney fees is denied.”