LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - The mother of murdered Little Rock TV anchor Anne Pressly will be able to continue her lawsuit against the hospital that treated her daughter in the days following her attack.
The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a lower court got it wrong…at least in part…when it refused to allow Patti Cannady's lawsuit to go forward.
During her five day hospitalization several St. Vincent employees took unauthorized looks at Anne Pressly's medical records. The angst that those actions caused her family will now be heard by a jury.
Taking an unauthorized look at Anne Pressly's medical records was a violation of law…until she died.
Arkansas law does not allow claims for invasion of privacy after a person is deceased.
That part of Cannady's lawsuit will not go forward.
"The court looked at some very old law in determining whether or not that part of our case survived and it decided that it did not," says Cannady's attorney Gerry Schulze. "But I think that they felt that they were bound by the old precedent. The body that can fix that is the legislature."
The part that the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled can go forward is the outrage experienced by Anne's family once they were made aware that people without authorization were looking at her medical records.
Justice Paul Danielson explained that in order to establish a claim for outrage, a person must demonstrate
1. There was intent…or at least the offender should have known that his/her actions would cause emotional distress.
2. The conduct was extreme and outrageous and beyond all possible bounds of decency.
3. The actions did in fact cause distress.
And 4. The emotional distress was severe.
"The most important thing for our purposes is we do get a day in court," says Schulze. "We do get our day at trial."
We reached out to the spokesperson for St. Vincent Hospital by both email and telephone but have not heard back.
Cannady believes this issue should be of importance to all Arkansans. There were certain aspects of Anne's attack that her family would have preferred been known only to police investigators and her primary care givers. Instead others looked at those records and may have shared what they learned.
Cannady says if this could happen to her family it could happen to your family.
Air date: October 4th, 2012
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