Appeals Court Agrees to Send Rush Limbaugh’s Medical Privacy Case to the Florida Supreme Court

MIAMI – Nov. 17 — Rush Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, said today that the decision of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal to send the radio talk show host’s medical privacy case to the state Supreme Court represents a victory for his client and for all Floridians.

“The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in prior cases that Florida’s medical privacy laws elevate patient medical records to special status and provide ‘a strict scheme for limited disclosure,'” Mr. Black said. “I am optimistic that the Supreme Court will rule that the wholesale seizure of Mr. Limbaugh’s medical records by the Palm Beach State Attorney was done in violation of these laws.”

In a split 2-1 ruling October 6, a three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal said that prosecutors were not required to follow the notice and hearing procedure defined in state law. The panel majority said the laws applied only to subpoenas and that prosecutors properly seized the records using search warrants obtained in secret court hearings.

Mr. Black filed motions with the appeals court for a rehearing and for certification of a question to the Florida Supreme Court. The Fourth District Court today denied the motion for a rehearing, but granted the motion to certify the following question to the Florida Supreme Court:

Do (Florida statutes) 395.3025(4) and 456.057(5)(a) bar the State from obtaining a search warrant to seize and inspect a patient’s medical records without providing the patient notice and a prior hearing to oppose the seizure and inspection?

“All Floridians will lose the medical privacy protections afforded by Florida law if the panel’s decision is allowed to stand,” Mr. Black said. “Why would prosecutors ever follow the notice and hearing procedures defined in Florida law if they could simply use search warrants to raid doctors’ offices and hospitals to seize the records?”

Mr. Limbaugh has not been charged with anything. The Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office has said it is investigating a possible case of doctor shopping, obtaining overlapping prescriptions from two different doctors.