New Trial Ordered for Man Who Claims Quest Disclosed His HIV-Positive Status
The Missouri Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a man who sued Quest Diagnostics, claiming the lab disclosed his HIV-positive status to the church where he worked, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The plaintiff, identified in court records only as John Doe 1631, went to Quest Labs in the Central […]
The Missouri Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a man who sued Quest Diagnostics, claiming the lab disclosed his HIV-positive status to the church where he worked, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The plaintiff, identified in court records only as John Doe 1631, went to Quest Labs in the Central West End, Mo., for blood work in July 2006. He had been living with HIV since 1999. According to court records, the man’s doctor faxed a form ordering blood work to him at the Wayman AME Church in St. Louis. The man then took the form, with the fax number written on the top, to the lab. Lab workers then sent the blood results to the church by mistake, assuming that’s why the fax number was written on the order form. The results came while Doe was on vacation and sat for about a week in view of church members and employees, according to the Post-Dispatch. The results referenced HIV in three places but did not make his positive status explicit. A St. Louis Circuit Court jury sided with Quest in 2010, and the Eastern District Court of Appeals upheld the case last year. But on appeal, the man’s attorney, Ken Chackes, argued that jurors were improperly instructed to consider whether Doe had given Quest “written authorization” to release the results by providing the form with the fax number on top. The unanimous ruling, authored by Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith, agrees that the jury instruction was prejudicial to Doe’s case. The court also ruled that Circuit Court Judge Dennis Schaumann properly granted a directed verdict to the lab’s parent company, Quest Diagnostics, which argued that it should not be held liable for the actions of a subsidiary. Chackes had argued that the two should be treated as one and the same. According to court records, Doe was fired from the church six months after the fax incident. The pastor said that he had already known of Doe’s HIV-positive status and that the dismissal was for financial reasons. But Chackes argued that nobody else knew before the results were left in the open on the fax machine. He said his client received threatening phone calls at his home, with profane language warning Doe to stay away from the caller’s children, says the Post-Dispatch. Doe is seeking unspecified punitive damages and compensation for emotional distress.