Guam Port Authority Named In $3 Million Lawsuit

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Former employee alleges invasion of son’s privacy

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, June 11, 2013) – The husband of Bernadette Meno, former marketing administrator of the Port Authority of Guam (PAG), has filed a $3 million claim for damages against the agency for releasing his 2-year-old son’s medical information.

In a government claim filed Thursday, Anthony J.D. Meno said port officials committed 29 violations for invasion of privacy and publication of private information pertinent to his son.

"The medical records of my son prior to the illegal release by the Port Authority of Guam were in fact private and his medical condition was not generally known," Anthony Meno said.

The claim stemmed from PAG’s adverse action against Bernadette Meno, who was fired from her job on allegations that she falsified her worker’s compensation claim resulting from her slip-and-fall accident in the port’s bathroom.

Anthony Meno said port officials released his son’s medical records in order to prove that his wife withheld information from the port’s surgeon.

"The documents from the port then state that my wife mentioned she had a caesarian section but did not tell the surgeon that she gave birth to my son," he said.

"Obviously the port negligently prepared, gathered and released my son’s medical records because they were not aware or competent enough to know that a caesarian section is, in fact, a form of birth," Anthony Meno added.

Walking papers

Bernadette Meno was among the six employees removed from their posts in December last year following a "theft and corruption" investigation into a worker's compensation claim.

Some of the fired employees have won their appeal with the Civil Service Commission (CSC), while Bernadette Meno is still fighting her case.

During CSC’s review of the adverse action, port officials submitted the medical records of Bernadette and Anthony Meno's son to the commission amid protest from Bernadette Meno and her attorney, Curtis Van de Veld, who warned port officials of their violation of local and federal laws on privacy.

The Health Insurance Portability Act includes a Privacy Rule that establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information. It sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures that may be made of such information without patient authorization.

CSC Director Tony Lamorena had instructed PAG to redact the medical records for the Menos' son, but Anthony Meno said port officials continued reproducing and releasing the challenged documents despite three warnings.

"Clearly the release of my son’s medical records and his medical condition were made public and the port gave publicity to the contents of his medical records," Anthony Meno said, adding that the release of his son’s records "was not a matter of legitimate public concern."

Bathroom accident

PAG’s investigation arose from a bathroom accident in September 2011 involving Bernadette Meno, who suffered a back injury as a result of her fall.

An inspection report written by the port’s safety inspector supported Bernadette Meno’s claim that she slipped and fell in the restroom while at work, but the document was not included in Meno’s final notice of adverse action.

According to the report, Bernadette Meno slipped on an "oily substance" on the bathroom floor.

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