5:09pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Feds Must Respond to Lawsuit Claiming IRS "Peeping Toms" Raided Health Records
More than three years ago, a mysterious company filed a mysterious lawsuit against "John Does 1-15" with a pretty outrageous claim.
The lawsuit alleged that the IRS raided the company on March 11, 2011, and that agents in the course of an investigation of a former employee stole more than 60 million medical records of more than 10 million Americans.
"After being put on notice of the illicit seizure, the IRS agents refused to return the records, continued to keep the records for the prying eyes of IRS peeping toms, and keep the records to this very day," stated a complaint that was originally filed in San Diego Superior Court before being removed to federal court. "The records may concern the intimate medical records of every state judge in California, every state court employee in California, leading and politically controversial members of the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild, and prominent citizens in the world of entertainment, business and government, from all walks of life."
It also was alleged that IRS agents searched "intimate parts" after seizing records.
The raided company at the heart of the lawsuit was later revealed to be Three Rivers Provider Network in Chula Vista, Calif., a national health network, and the lawsuit caught the attention of Congressional Republicans. But the case was paused because the Justice Department told the court it was tied to the criminal prosecution of Blaine Pollock, who founded the company and was charged with false statements on an individual tax return and aiding and assisting false statements on a corporate tax return.
According to a review of his case, Pollock took a plea and was given a judgment of time served and a fine of $350,000.
But now that the criminal case is over, the federal judge overseeing the civil one lifted the stay on Thursday and ordered the defendants — in particular, a special agent named Gabriel Kornacki — to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint within the next 30 days.
As a result, a lawsuit from that "John Doe Company," which is attempting to represent "10 million citizens across the country, including many of the Judges of the Superior Court of California, their family, their clerks, their court employees, the members of the Screen Actors Guild, the members of the Directors Guild of America, and the players for Major League Baseball," is live.
The plaintiff, represented by attorney Robert Barnes, is asserting a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, specifically an unlawful search, seizure and invasion of privacy. The relief sought is an injunction on sharing of records, a return of records and compensatory damages in the amount of $25,000 per violation per individual.
This lawsuit may go nowhere, but the government's response will be provided once it comes.