A Florida man is suing Cigna for disclosing his HIV-positive status to third parties after he forbade the disclosure on multiple occasions.
Cigna and one of its employees are being sued on four counts of negligence and one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“John Doe,” as he is identified in the suit, is demanding trial by jury on all counts as of Aug. 27, 2016.
In October 2011, Cigna hired PhotoFax, Inc., a private investigation firm, to review Doe’s eligibility for disability benefits. After obtaining services from the firm, Cigna disclosed Doe’s medical records, which included positive HIV test results. Again, in March 2013, PhotoFax was hired and supplied the private information about Doe’s medical history. On a third occasion in August 2013, Cigna acquired the services of Dr. Bjupendra K. Gupta, to review Doe’s eligibility for disability payments.
The plaintiff’s medical records and HIV results were disclosed to Gupta.
According to the suit, Florida law protects citizens’ rights to the privacy of medical records.
On several occasions, Cigna requested that Doe authorize the company to disclose his medical records to third parties. Each time, a written notice of refusal was sent to Cigna from the plaintiff.
The first time the request for disclosure was noticed by Doe was in April 2000. He sent a letter to Cigna stating he did not fill out the form “where CIGNA has made a new and unusual request for broad authorization with respect to records.”
In March 2003, Doe sent a second letter in response to yet another disclosure form that was sent to him to fill out.
In his letter, he stated:
“With respect to the ‘Disclosure Authorization’ form, it is my understanding, per a conversation with Ms. Larson of CIGNA, that it is not necessary for me to complete this portion of the CIGNA Form at this time. I sincerely hope that you understand my concerns in this regard, and I hope that my concerns (regarding disclosure of HIV/AIDS information to various entities) did not cause you or CIGNA any inconvenience.”
Around 2011, Doe was contacted via phone by Cigna representative Pamela Jasper. Jasper reportedly intimidated Doe in hopes of getting him to sign over his rights. For the following two years, Jasper would request Doe sign over his rights many times, according to the suit.
After the revelation that his records had been given to third parties, Doe suffered anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress which required him to seek medical treatment.
The plaintiff worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers from August 1986 to March 2014. During this time, he was insured by Cigna for medical insurance via his employer. In August 1992, Doe filed for disability benefits through his policy with Cigna. The insurance company would periodically hire private investigators to review Doe’s eligibility for benefits.