• Quintana v. Lightner
  • July 14, 2011 | Authors: Justin Gundlach; Arthur N. Lerner
  • Law Firm: Crowell & Moring LLP - Washington Office
  • Plaintiff Justin Quintana was injured in an auto accident and received medical care, the costs of which were reimbursed by his ERISA plan. Quintana recovered damages from the other party involved in the accident in a state court action. State Farm, the insurer of that other party, subsequently sought information from the ERISA plan's subrogation vendor, Ingenix, in order to determine what State Farm owed to Quintana under the other party's accident insurance policy.

    Quintana brought claims in state court against State Farm, Ingenix, and Ingenix employee Kem Lightner for the alleged disclosure of Quintana's medical information to State Farm. Quintana's claims included alleged violation of his right to privacy, conspiracy to invade his privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of HIPAA.  After the defendants removed the case to federal court, Quintana moved to remand.

    The federal district court granted Quintana's motion for remand after rejecting Ingenix's argument that Quintana's state law claims were preempted by ERISA. Distinguishing Aetna v. Davila, the court noted that "Quintana is neither attempting to recover benefits nor alleging a violation of the terms of the [ERISA] Plan." Because Quintana's claims did not address an area of exclusive federal concern, and because he alleged that Ingenix acted beyond the scope of the authority granted it by the Plan's terms, the federal court concluded that his state law claims should proceed in state court.

    The court also noted sua sponte that Quintana's claim under HIPAA did not confer federal jurisdiction. HIPAA provides no private cause of action to parties like Quintana, and the Fifth Circuit, the court said, - unlike some other federal courts - has not inferred such a cause of action from "HIPAA's comprehensive remedial scheme."