BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CN) – Kern County Sheriff’s employees took photos of a naked woman and posted them online after a sheriff’s deputy hit her with his patrol car, the woman claims in Kern County Court.
Terri Lynn Groves sued Deputy Sheriff Logan Earl Steven August, Kern County, and John Does 1-100.
Groves claims August crashed his patrol car into her Kia Spectra at a busy intersection in April 2011.
Her attorney, Thomas Brill, with Young & Nichols, says that the facts surrounding the crash are still unclear.
“It’s still a little confusing because there are so many different versions of what happened,” Brill told Courthouse News in a telephone interview.
“What we believe happened is that Deputy August ran a red light while Ms. Groves was turning on a green light.”
Groves also claims the defendants violated her privacy by publishing nude photos of her online.
According to the complaint: “Defendant August and Does 1-30 took photographs of plaintiff’s naked body and published them on the Internet, and in other places as well.”
In the interview, Brill elaborated on the bare-bones complaint. He said the photos were taken after Groves was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
“People with the Sheriff’s Department came into her room while she was unconscious and took photos of her breasts,” Brill said.
“We don’t know why, because we haven’t heard their side of the story yet, but our guess is that they’ll claim they took the photos for documentation purposes,” he said.
Brill said it is unclear who took the photos.
“There were a number of different pictures taken of Ms. Groves that day, and in one of them you can see a name tag that says T.I. Moor,” Brill said. He said T.I. stands for technical investigator.
“It’s hard to say for sure who took the pictures, but we’re pretty sure it was him,” Brill said.
He said he does not know who is responsible for posting the photos on the Internet, but it had to be someone at the Sheriff’s Department because the photos of his client also were circulated around the department.
The complaint claims publishing the photos violated Groves’s privacy, and violated HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
HIPAA prohibits hospitals and doctors from disclosing information about a patient unless doing so is necessary, such as to curb the spread of contagious diseases.
Groves also seeks damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Brill said she has a strong case.
“The conduct must be outrageously beyond belief for courts to accept emotional distress claims,” the attorney said. “I’m pretty sure this case qualifies because there was no reason for them to put photos of her breasts online.”
A hearing to schedule the trial is set for October.