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  • Writer's pictureBill Austill

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Denies Mandamus Relief for over restrictive HIPAA Order

On February 23, 2018, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals denied a Petition for Writ of Mandamus requested by Alabama Gas Corporation (Alagasco) where the Court entered an overly restrictive order depriving Alagasco of many rights it was provided by the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. The HIPAA Order provided that medical records could only be obtain through a subpoena (this precluded the workers' compensation carrier from determining if medical care was reasonable, necessary, and related to the accident to process bills), that the medical provider was prohibited from disclosing any protected health information other than that which directly pertained to the alleged work-related injury, and that Alagasco's attorneys were prohibited from ex party communication with the medical provider. Procedurally, Alagasco filed an objection to the HIPAA order and a hearing was set December 20, 2017. However, Alagasco filed its Petition for Writ of Mandamus on December 18, 2017. At the December 20, 2017 hearing, the trial court “I think, [the HIPAA order], to some degree, is due to be amended.... [T]here may be some revision that I acknowledge that needs [to] be made.”

The Court of Civil Appeals denied the petition stating "Alagasco has failed to demonstrate that the HIPAA order is reviewable under the categories our supreme court has recognized as warranting mandamus review of discovery orders." In his concurring opinion, Judge Terry Moore expressed a very rational basis for the denial of the petition when he stated "I conclude that the trial court has not refused to act on the motion of the employer. Unless and until the trial court refuses to act, the petition for a writ of mandamus is, in my opinion, premature." We may not have seen the last of this issue.

Click the following hyperlink for a copy of the opinion and a copy of the HIPAA Order:

Ex parte Alabama Gas Corporation, --- So.3d ---- (2018) and Judge Graffeo's HIPAA Order.

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