An unnamed healthcare provider in California is suing the Internal Revenue Service and 15 unnamed agents, alleging they seized 60 million medical records of 10 million Americans, including records of all California state judges. The putative class claims the IRS agents' seizure of medical records violated the 4th Amendment, reports Courthouse News Service.
On March 11, 2011, IRS agents executed a search warrant for financial data pertaining to one former employee of the “John Doe Company.” No search warrant or subpoena authorized the seizure of the medical records.
The complaint states that IT personnel at the scene and company executives warned IRS agents about the privileged medical records.
"Despite knowing that these medical records were not within the scope of the warrant, defendants threatened to 'rip' the servers containing the medical data out of the building if IT personnel would not voluntarily hand them over."
The suit also alleges that while executing the warrant, IRS agents seized employees' phones and the data on them -- a seizure also not approved by the warrant. "In fact, no effort was made at all to even try maintaining the illusion of legitimacy and legality," the complaint states.
The "invasive and unlawful" seizure of the records opened the most intimate details of medical treatments, therapies and rehabilitations of the plaintiffs.
The class is so large, the complaint states, that roughly 1 in 25 adult American citizens is affected. The records "may include" every state court employee in California, controversial members of the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild, and "prominent citizens in the world of entertainment, business and government."
"Adding insult to injury, after unlawfully seizing the records and searching their intimate parts, defendants decided to use John Doe Company's media system to watch basketball, ordering pizza and Coca-Cola, to take in part of the NCAA tournament."
The suit claims the IRS refuses to reveal which agents participated in the raid, who saw the medical records, and which agents have the records today. The class seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages "per violation per individual" and punitive damages for constitutional violations.