A very interesting case has been developing in Scituate, Rhode Island between a volunteer fire company, and the town. While the underlying facts and motives are unclear, on September 22, 2009 the town took steps to close the Chopmist Hill VFD, evict the members, and order its reorganization. On October 30, 2009, the fire company obtained a court order restoring their control over the premises.
In the latest twist, the company is alleging that upon their return to the station they discovered that smeone had removed a lock on a file cabinet containing medical reports from EMS runs, and left the reports lying on top of a desk. The medical reports contained confidential patient information subject to Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and those who violate the law could face civil and criminal penalties.
This case raises so many issues, such as: was the town justified or did they try to close the company for unlawful reasons? Even if the town was justified, did they have the legal authority to do what they did, and did they do it in a lawful manner? And what about a possible violation of HIPAA?
It will be interesting to follow the case to its conclusion.