(CN) – The Kentucky Court of Appeals denied more than $12,000 in legal fees to an Indian doctor who claimed the University of Kentucky withheld portions of her graduate medical records, including a letter recommending that she not be licensed in the state.
Shyamashree Sinha was placed on probation and later terminated from her residency program at the university’s medical school. But because graduation from a residency program is not required in Kentucky, Sinha pursued her medical license through the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. She had plans to practice at a rural health-care clinic.
Unbeknownst to Sinha, her residency director, Steven Haist, had written a letter to the licensing board, recommending that she not be granted a license. As a result, the board refused to license her. Sinha faced having to return to India based on her immigrant status.
She demanded her medical education documents in writing, without citing the Open Records Act, and then filed suit when the university took too long to respond.
Two days later, the university mailed her some of the records, but withheld Haist’s letter and the minutes from the evaluation committee’s meeting.
Sinha claimed the university needed to reimburse her for $12,549.34 in costs and attorney fees, plus a per diem sum of $3,225, for its “willful and wrongful” decision to withhold some of her records.
Judge Lambert affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that, “while the university improperly withheld the records, it did not do so with the intent to violate the Act, and it had plausible explanation for its errors.”
The university explained that its staff had assumed Sinha’s request was simply a routine request for student records, because she never invoked the Open Records Act.