A Bloomington, Indiana man won $1.25 million judgment against Internal Medicine Associates after they disclosed his HIV status when they sued him for a $326 past due bill. The doctor's office gave the information to their collection lawyers who gave it to collection agents and included it in a court filing demanding payment.
The ruling followed years of grueling depositions and medical board rulings in favor of the patient. The man's name wasn't disclosed in his lawsuit; the original suit brought by IMA that disclosed his real name and HIV status was filed in 2004. Because the information became publicly available once their collections case was filed, anyone could have seen the filing and known the man's status.
"The entire case is about protecting his privacy and not having people in the Bloomington community know his status," his attorney, Neal Eggesen, said. "He was asking the jury to at least give him enough to move somewhere else. He does not feel comfortable here anymore."
In court, the man testified that IMA had told more people he was positive than he had. Attorneys for IMA argued that since he had told at least one other person who wasn't his family or sexual partner, they had no obligation to pay anything for telling a non-relevant party; they also demanded to know how many sexual partners the man had had so they knew how many people he'd told before having sex.