Federal Judge Issues a Decision Favoring UMMC in Legal Fight Concerning Patient Data Theft

A federal judge has decided to favor the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in a case of unauthorized access and data theft versus three ex-workers.

UMMC filed a lawsuit against Dr. Spencer Sullivan as well as other ex-workers regarding the alleged data theft and usage of patients’ health records. In July 2014, UMMC employed Dr. Sullivan as its Hemophilia Treatment Center’s medical director. Dr. Sullivan signed a non-compete clause agreement, which kept him from utilizing UMMC records to get patients for his independent practice.

As per the lawsuit, Sullivan began making plans to start his own hemophilia clinic and drug store in January 2016. He connived with the following UMMC employees: Rachel Henderson Harris, Linnea McMillan, and Kathryn Sue Stevens. They helped set up the new practice including making a listing of UMMC patients.

A patient listing was made that contained patient names, phone numbers, birth dates, diagnosis, prescription details, insurance data, and pharmacy details. After establishing the practice, Dr. Sullivan resigned in June 2016 from UMMC and utilized the patient listing to get patients and urged them to maintain their treatment at his newly established Mississippi Center for Advanced Medicine located in Madison, MS.

About 20 UMMC workers were employed at the new medical center and many of the Batson Children’s Hospital patients decided to follow their doctors and transferred to the new medical center.

UMMC filed a lawsuit against Dr. Sullivan and his co-conspirators for allegedly violating the Federal Trade Secrets Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. All defendants denied that they stole patient data from UMMC. The Clarion-Ledger reported the story in 2018 as well as the continuing legal fight between UMMC, Dr. Sullivan, and his conspirators. After looking at the case, McMillan’s ex-husband got in touch with UMMC and gave a copy of the listing of patients, which he claimed he got in the car of his ex-wife. That finding marked a big move in the lawsuit; nevertheless, even if the list was retrieved, the defendants still denied the theft and use of patient files while under oath.

After that, in April 2021, Harris confessed to telling lies in her deposition and presented 1,469 pages of SMS that she and her co-defendants sent relating to the UMMC patient information, which showed that they had connived to destroy stolen documents, which contained patient information. She additionally affirmed that Sullivan, Stevens, McMillan, and herself had utilized the listing of patients. On June 22, 2020, the court sacked with bias all cases against Harris.

On March 12, 2021, UMMC submitted a motion for default judgment versus the other defendants, alleging that all of them committed perjury and got involved in spoliation of proof by shredding the patient list along with other material taken from UMMC.

Sullivan denied having hard drives that contain files and email messages taken from UMMC, however, upon the order of a magistrate judge to give either his PC or hard drives, Sullivan confessed to having files on a USB drive and hard drive and presented them to the defense party.

On October 8, 2021, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves released a default judgment favoring UMMC and schedule the case for a trial on February 16, 2022.

About Christine Garcia 1288 Articles
Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA