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Gatlin v. Goodman

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division

September 6, 2019

PERRY JOE GATLIN PLAINTIFF
v.
PROSECUTOR DEVON GOODMAN; JAIL ADMINISTRATOR JASON DAY; CORPORAL JARED POINTER; CORPORAL WADE; and JAILER HEATH HUDSON DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Perry Joe Gatlin ("Gatlin"), currently an inmate of the Boone County Detention Center ("BCDC"), has filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He proceeds pro se and has sought leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Gatlin names as Defendants Prosecuting Attorney Devon Goodman ("Goodman"), Jail Administrator Jason Day ("Day"), Corporal Jared Pointer ("Pointer"), Corporal Wade ("Wade"), and Jailer Heath Hudson ("Hudson"). Gatlin has sued the Defendants in both their individual and official capacities.

         The case is before the Court for preservice screening under the provisions of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the allegations of the Complaint and Supplement (Docs. 2, 3), on April 14, 2019, Pointer "got a hold of medical records concerning Gatlin's infant daughter. The jailers then discussed the records and passed them around prior to faxing them to Goodman, the prosecutor in a case against Gatlin. According to Gatlin, Pointer thought it was "a joke and shared [the records] with not only his shift but the next shift." The records were passed though Wade and Hudson as well as other officers.

         Once they were done passing the records around, Gatlin alleges that Wade, who discussed the records with shift commanders, including Day, gave Gatlin the medical records that had been intended "only" for him. Gatlin alleges that neither he nor his wife had signed a medical authorization form releasing the records.

         According to Gatlin, Goodman discussed the records with Derika Bell and Jamie Christman from the public defender's office and also provided them with copies. Gatlin further alleges that Goodman "was heard in the courtroom discussing and making jokes, comments about my daughter[']s medical status." Gatlin maintains that Goodman tried "to use the documents to further my incarceration due to a failure to appear in court."

         Gatlin alleges that Defendants' conduct in illegally obtaining, sharing, and using Gatlin's daughter's medical records constitutes a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA") and a violation of his and his family's constitutional right to privacy. As relief, Gatlin requests monetary damages as well as an order preventing Goodman from violating the medical privacy rights of inmates in the future.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the PLRA, the Court is obligated to screen the case prior to service of process being issued. The Court must dismiss a complaint, or any portion of it, if it contains claims that: (1) are frivolous or malicious; (2) fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or, (3) seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)-(iii).

         A claim is frivolous when it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). A claim fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted if it does not allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "The essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party fair notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a general indication of the type of litigation involved." Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         However, the Court bears in mind that when "evaluating whether a pro se plaintiff has asserted sufficient facts to state a claim, we hold 'a pro se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, ... to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.'" Jackson v. Nixon, 747 F.3d 537, 541 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)).

         III. ...


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