In USAA Casualty Insurance Co., as Subrogee v. Permanent Mission Of The Republic Of Namibia, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations was sued for the $397,730 worth of damage to an adjoining property caused by its alleged failure to comply with Section 3309.8 of the New York City Building Code. The Mission claimed that it was immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Second Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals not only rejected the claim of immunity for damages caused by the Mission’s negligence, but also held that the Mission had a nondelegable duty to the adjoining landowner, meaning that it was liable even if the damage was caused by work of the contractor or the subcontractor. The decision comes during the New York City Buildings Department’s 8th annual No-Penalty Retaining Wall Inspection Program.
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In Del Terzo v. The Hospital For Special Surgery the court rebuffed a defendant’s demand for a medical malpractice victim’s HIV-related information, alcohol/drug treatment information and mental health information. The plaintiff successfully argued that Public Health Law § 2785(2) (HIV-related records) and Mental Hygiene Law § 22.05 and § 33.13 (records of chemical dependency) protected her from having to give defendant's attorneys authorizations to obtain those sensitive records. Hopefully the courts will pay heed to this decision, and not limit it to HIV-related information and chemical dependence situations (or just to medical malpractice cases as opposed to motor vehicle or slip-and-fall- cases).
Subpoena for Hospital Records for Investigation of Death of Prison Inmate Held Enforceable Notwithstanding Privacy Laws
In The Matter Of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation vs. New York State Commission Of Correction (May 8, 2012), the Court of Appeals enforced a subpoena issued by the Medical Review Board ("Board") of the New York State Commission (“Commission”) to Elmhurst Hospital of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (“HHC”) for records of a prison inmate who died subsequent to transfers from the New York City facility where he was incarcerated to Elmhurst Hospital and then to Bellevue Hospital. HHC refused to turn over the records on the grounds that Mr. Frazier had been treated at Elmhurst in a non-prison unit, and that his records were shielded from disclosure by the physician-patient privilege. The Court of Appeals held that the Board's authority to “investigate and review the cause and circumstances surrounding the death of any inmate of a correctional facility” trumped HIPPA medical privacy laws.