United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Harrison Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Joe Gatlin ("Gatlin"), a former 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 in forma pauperis.
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.
contends his constitutional right of privacy was violated
when Defendants opened an envelope sent to him marked
"legal mail," read it, and shared it with others.
The envelope contained his minor daughter's medical
record. This case is once again before the Court for
preservice screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B)(i-iii). Under § 1915(e)(2)(B), 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. §
Opinion and Order (Doc. 11) entered on September 6, 2019, the
Court dismissed Gatlin's claim under the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
("HIPAA"). With respect to his invasion of privacy
claim, Gatlin was directed to file an additional supplement
to his Complaint containing the following details: the
contents of the medical record; the nature of the criminal
proceedings in which the medical record was disclosed; the
relevance, if any, of the medical record to those criminal
proceedings; why, and by whom, the medical record was sent to
the jail in the first place; and, how Pointer obtained the
medical record. Gatlin was directed to file his supplement no
later than September 27, 2019. He filed it late on October 2,
2019 (Doc. 12), but the Court has considered it, nonetheless.
to the allegations of the Complaint and both Supplements
(Docs. 2, 3, 12), Gatlin's minor daughter was born on
March 18, 2019. At the time, Gatlin was not incarcerated.
According to Gatlin, on March 21, 2019, he and his wife
became concerned about their daughter's breathing. They
called their daughter's doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, and
were instructed to bring the baby in the following day. A
summary of the March 22, 2019 office visit indicates the baby
was seen for a scheduled weight check. (Doc. 12 at 4). No.
mention is made of any breathing difficulties. Id.
event, Gatlin was also scheduled to appear in court on March
22, 2019. As his wife was medically unable to drive, Gatlin
was required to drive his wife and the baby to the
appointment with Dr. Morgan. Gatlin indicates that he
contacted the court and his probation officer to tell them
about his baby's medical situation, but a
failure-to-appear warrant was issued. Gatlin believes that
the process of revoking his parole had begun before the baby
was born. At some point, Gatlin was taken into custody and
booked into the BCDC.
asked his wife to mail him the single-page summary of the
doctor's visit on March 22. Gatlin intended to use the
medical record to establish his whereabouts on March 22 as a
defense to the failure-to-appear charge. Gatlin alleges that
the medical record had no other relevance to his criminal
charges. Gatlin maintains that his wife marked the envelope
containing the March 22 summary of the visit as "legal
mail." According to Gatlin, the "legal mail"
designation meant the envelope could only be opened in his
presence and inspected for contraband but could not be read.
to Gatlin, on April 14, 2019, the medical record was taken
out of the envelope by Pointer. The jailers then discussed
the record and passed it around prior to faxing it to
Goodman, the prosecutor in the state criminal action against
Gatlin. According to Gatlin, Pointer thought it was "a
joke and shared [the record] with not only his shift but the
next shift." Gatlin alleges the record was passed though
Wade and Hudson as well as other officers.
Defendants were done passing the record around, Gatlin
alleges that Wade, who discussed the record with the shift
commanders, including Day, gave Gatlin the medical record.
Gatlin alleges that neither he nor his wife had signed a
medical authorization form releasing his minor daughter's
reports that Goodman discussed the record with Derika Bell
and Jamie Christman from the public defender's office and
also provided them with copies. Gatlin alleges Goodman
"was heard in the courtroom discussing and making jokes,
comments about my daughter[']s medical status."
Gatlin maintains Goodman tried "to use the document to
further my incarceration due to a failure to appear in
court." Gatlin alleges that Defendants' conduct
constitutes a violation of his family's constitutional
right to privacy because they illegally obtained, shared, and
used the medical record. Gatlin asserts that the medical
record was no business of the Defendants, or the court,
except to show his whereabouts on the March 22 court date.
For this reason, Gatlin believes that only his daughter's
name, date of birth, gender, and date of the visit were
relevant to his case, and the nature of her medical issues
should not have been discussed.
asserts that Pointer admitted to him that the matter was
handled improperly and asked if Gatlin forgave him.
Additionally, Gatlin alleges that Wade apologized for the
manner in which the document was handled.
relief, Gatlin requests monetary damages. He also asks that
Goodman be prevented from engaging in future infringement of