Giant Drug Overreach Alleged in Florida

DeLAND, Fla. (CN) – A Florida state attorney breached the medical histories of 3,300 people in a search for a single suspect, which was later broadened to a search for just six, a man claims in court.
     Michael H. Lambert sued R.J. Larizza, a state attorney for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of the State of Florida, in Volusia County Court.
     Lambert claims that during a 2012 DEA investigation into prescription drug crimes, the DEA “requested information from the Manager of the Department of Health Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to supply them with the names of all persons for whom certain medications were prescribed by certain healthcare providers for a twelve-month period.”
     “Despite having identified certain known suspects in their investigation, the request was not specific to only those known-named individuals, but was directed to the various types of controlled medications that were prescribed.
     “As a result, the manager of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program with the Department of Health provided those law enforcement agents with the twelve-month prescription history of over 3,300 Florida citizens.
     “Those 3,300 citizens were not suspects, under investigation, nor were they targets of an ongoing criminal or civil investigation,” the complaint states.
     The investigation, which ended in January this year, led to the arrest of six people, whose prosecutors “each … received from the law enforcement agents an investigative packet, which included the partial prescription history of over 3,300 Florida citizens covering for a period of twelve months. Those confidential records were in no way relevant to any criminal or civil investigation,” the complaint states.
     It continues: “Each of the defendants in the six criminal cases, through their counsel, sought to participate in discovery, the State Attorney’s Office, through its Assistant State Attorneys, copied and forwarded to each of the six defendants’ respective attorneys, copies of the prescription medication histories of those 3,300 Florida citizens, including the petitioner.”
     Lambert claims the histories provided by the state attorney’s office included
     “(a) Patient’s full name;
     “(b) Patient’s complete home address;
     “(c) Patient’s telephone number;
     “(d) Patient’s insurance plan number;
     “(e) Government-issued identification number;
     “(f) Provider number;
     “(g) DEA number;
     “(h) Other unique identifying information or number.”
     He seeks an injunction requiring the state attorney’s office “to immediately recall, collect, and place under seal all medical and or prescription records of the plaintiff as well as those of the other 3,000-plus Florida citizens which defendant received from law enforcement agents at the time defendant received Mr. Lambert’s prescription history records.”
     He is represented by John Tanner of Daytona Beach.

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