(Super. Ct. No. 10CV6659)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoch , J.
California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
Plaintiffs Charles David Williams, Jr., and Robert S. Fallis sued Mule Creek State Prison, four individual prison employees, a law firm, and one individual attorney for invasion of privacy and unauthorized disclosure of confidential medical records. The trial court sustained without leave to amend defendants' demurrers to plaintiffs' complaint, and ultimately dismissed the complaint.
In this pro se appeal from the judgments entered in defendants' favor, plaintiffs contend the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrers, and also contend the court erred in failing to enter the defaults of Mule Creek State Prison, L. Storrie, N. Voss, T. Weinholdt, and C.J. Smith (collectively, the prison defendants) after they were served with the summons and complaint but had filed no response within the statutory period.
Upon de novo review of the complaint, we conclude the trial court erred in sustaining defendants' demurrers. We also conclude the trial court erred by not entering the defaults of the prison defendants.*fn1 We reverse the judgments, strike the orders sustaining defendants' demurrers, and order the trial court to enter the defaults of the prison defendants.
Because this is an appeal following successful demurrers, we accept as true all facts properly pled in plaintiffs' complaint, and also incorporate any facts of which we may take judicial notice. (Gu v. BMW of North America, LLC (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 195, 200.)
Allegations of the Complaint
Plaintiffs are prison inmates.
Plaintiff Williams contacted defendant law firm Khorrami Pollard & Abir, LLP (including Galorah Keshavarz, collectively, the attorney defendants), about possibly participating in a lawsuit brought by the law firm on behalf of inmates who have hepatitis C and have received inadequate medical treatment. Williams requested a questionnaire. The firm responded and sent Williams a questionnaire, attorney/client retainer agreement, and a HIPAA authorization for the release of medical information. Williams discussed the matter with his cellmate, plaintiff Fallis, who also has hepatitis C.
While Williams was reviewing the paperwork he had received, he received a letter from the law firm, signed by defendant Galorah Keshavarz, which stated in pertinent part: "We are currently reviewing your file and have noticed that you do not have an updated CDC 602 requesting treatment for your Hepatitis C in your file. We advise that you file a CDC 602 requesting treatment for your Hepatitis C virus ASAP!! . . . If you have not filed a CDC 602 requesting treatment for your Hepatitis C virus, please do so immediately. . . . As always, please make copies of all CDC 602 that you submit for your own records, and send a copy, including any and all responses, to our office immediately." (Paragraph breaks omitted.)
From this letter, Williams concluded the law firm had already received his prison medical records, without his having consented to their disclosure.
Farris also wrote to the law firm and received in response the same information and forms sent to Williams. Before he consented to the release of his medical records, Farris received a letter from the law firm, stating, "We have reviewed your file and analyzed your potential case against the California Department of Corrections [and Rehabilitation] regarding treatment of Hepatitis C. Based on our review of the facts surrounding your case, we have concluded that your case does not fit the profile of the type of case our office is currently accepting. As a result, while we appreciate your consideration of our law firm to represent you in this matter, we are unable to take your case."
Both plaintiffs submitted administrative appeals challenging the unauthorized release by prison employees of their medical records to the law firm. Williams's appeal stated he "has become aware that CDCR has released his medical files to a Law F[i]rm without his consent being given," and attached the letter he received from ...