MILWAUKEE (CN) – A Wisconsin publishing company claims in court that the steady flow of unsolicited private medical information it receives through its fax machine exposes the business to criminal liability.
Milwaukee-based Moose Moss Press says in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Milwaukee federal court that since 2015, it has received more than 120 fax transmissions intended for Envision RX, a national pharmacy benefit management company based in Twinsburg, Ohio.
Each fax the publisher receives from clients of Envision RX contains private medical information of persons unknown to anyone at Moose Moss, the company claims.
Much more than a mere annoyance or recycling concern, Moose Moss claims that each new, unwanted fax from an Envision RX customer contains the personal health information of third parties and thus exposes the publisher to "substantial liability for the unauthorized disclosure of personal health information.”
Craig Berg, managing member of Moose Moss, said in an affidavit accompanying the complaint that the faxes, clearly intended for Envision RX, first started coming in to the publisher's office around August or September 2015 and have steadily poured in, month-by-month, since then.
The exact number of unwelcome faxes that clients of Envision RX have sent to the publisher is not known because Moose Moss’ owner claims that it deleted the first few it received and then, after working with an Envision RX representative, deleted more at the representative's request.
Berg says the owner of Moose Moss then began to keep a log of the faxes – totaling 120 as of Dec. 19 – when it "became clear that Envision RX was not solving the problem, nor seemed that interested in solving the problem."
"At no point in time, previous to the deluge of medical information, has Moose Moss Press LLC ever transacted business or engaged in communications with Envision RX,” Berg’s affidavit states. Berg also says Moose Moss never solicited medical information Envision RX clients.
Moose Moss alleges that once it became apparent that the flow of information-sensitive faxes was unlikely to stop, the publisher entered into "lengthy" negotiations to sell the fax number to Envision RX, but no final agreement was reached and the Ohio company opted out of any further negotiations.
In December 2016 – the last month documented in Berg's affidavit and four weeks before the complaint was filed – four faxes intended for Envision RX, each containing third-party medical information, came through Moose Moss’ fax machine, according to the lawsuit.
Moose Moss seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction, and at least $500,000 in damages for claims of negligence and private nuisance. It is represented by Thomas D. Vaitys.
Envision RX did not respond Monday to an email request for comment.
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