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Acosta v. Byrum et al.

North Carolina Court of Appeals
638 S.E.2d 246 (2006)


Facts

Heather Acosta (plaintiff) was a patient of Psychiatric Associates and also an employee of the facility between September 2003 and early 2004. Dr. David R. Faber, II (defendant), owner of Psychiatric Associates, gave his medical access number to the facility’s office manager, Robin Byrum (defendant), numerous times between December 2003 and September 2004. Byrum used that number to obtain the confidential psychiatric and medical records of Acosta which she distributed to third parties without Acosta’s consent. Acosta claimed that Byrum expressed a deep dislike for her around that time. As a result of the third-party disclosure, Acosta claimed she experienced severe emotional distress, humiliation, and anguish. Acosta brought suit against Byrum for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Acosta sued Faber for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Acosta alleged that Faber knew or should have known that his negligence would cause her severe emotional distress. In her complaint, Acosta relied upon the rules and regulations of University Health Systems, Roanoke Chowan Hospital, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as evidence of the standard of care applicable to Faber. Faber filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, claiming Acosta’s negligence allegations and the applicable standard of care were insufficiently presented in her complaint. The trial court agreed and Acosta appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hunter, J.)

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