Alexandra Morelli Shares Insights on the Relationship Between Protected Health Information and Insurers in the Wake of Haage v. Zavala

The Illinois Supreme Court recently affirmed the appellate court decision in Haage v. Zavala, which involved the validity of Cook County’s standard protective order. BCS associate Alexandra Morelli discusses the factors that led to this ruling along with future implications for cases involving insurers and qualified protective orders (QPOs), protected health information and the standard protective order in Cook County.

The plaintiffs in Haage v. Zavala were involved in personal injury actions and filed for QPOs that alleged those who treated the plaintiffs were subject to the Privacy Rule. The defendants’ insurer objected to the plaintiffs’ proposed QPOs by referencing the Cook County standard protective order.

The trial court found that the standard protective order conflicted with HIPAA and was preempted by the Privacy Rule. Both the appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed this ruling and agreed that the insurer’s proposed protective orders violated Illinois Supreme Court Rule 201.

The Court further ruled that protective orders need to be tailored to the issues being litigated in each case. This will require a new standard protective order for Cook County that will bring greater challenges to subpoenas for personal injury medical records and a need for increased caution when reading protective orders that accompany subpoena requests.

Read Alexandra’s full case law analysis here.

Alexandra’s practice is centered on the defense of physicians, hospitals, nurses and other health care providers against claims of medical negligence. With her additional experience in civil defense litigation for not-for-profit organizations and health care facilities in cases involving premises liability and personal injury, Alexandra is well-informed on how to best assist her clients as they deal with the complexities of medical and civil litigation practices.