HLD, v. 34, n. 1 (January 2006)
U.S. Court In California Finds No
Constitutional Right To Privacy In Complaints Filed With State Medical Board
A federal court in California
found no constitutional right to privacy in complaints filed against a
podiatrist with the state medical board.
Plaintiff Andrew Carver operated a podiatry practice in San Francisco, California.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a
story about Carver alleging that he attracted clients by falsely claiming that
he treated professional athletes and that he had twenty-two complaints filed
The Medical Board of California subsequently sent Carver a
letter stating he had only six complaints filed against him. The Board also
said that Carver may have had twenty-two complaints, but that meritless complaints should have been removed from his
Carver filed suit against both the former and current
Executive Director of the Medical Board. Defendants moved to dismiss.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
California first addressed Carver's 42 U.S.C. � 1983 claim. The court found
Carver did not have a � 1983 claim because "[e]ven if
defendants released information about the number of complaints filed against
Carver to the public, this does not rise to the level of a constitutional
The court also disagreed with Carver's argument that a right
of privacy is created by California
law because the Medical Board is required to keep complaints confidential. The
court found that the state law does not create a constitutional right to
privacy. It merely provides for a possible state remedy, the court said.
Carver v. Rathlesberger, CIV-S-04-1918 DFL PAN
(E.D. Cal. Nov. 11, 2005).