United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. JOHNSTONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff William Phillips filed this action in forma
pauperis, asserting claims against the New Hampshire
Insurance Department (“NHID”), Guardian Life
Insurance Co. (“Guardian”), and individuals
associated with each entity in connection with a long-term
disability policy Guardian issued to Phillips. The complaint
is before this court for preliminary review, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and LR 4.3(d)(2).
magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of complaints,
like Phillips's, which are filed in forma pauperis.
See LR 4.3(d). The magistrate judge may recommend to
the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if,
among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant
is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); LR 4.3(d). In conducting its
preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints
liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain
“sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to
‘state a claim to relief.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). The
court treats as true all well-pleaded factual allegations,
and construes reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor.
See Ocasio-Hernández v.
Fortuño-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011).
alleges that he has a long-term disability insurance policy
with Guardian and that in approximately January 2019,
Guardian, acting through its employee, defendant Terry,
shared private information with Phillips's former
employer that resulted in an attachment to secure disputed
child support payments. Phillips further alleges that NHID
ignored his complaints about Guardian's actions.
contends that Guardian violated the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. No.
104-191, 110 Stat. 1936 (1996) (“HIPAA”). He also
claims that Guardian and NHID have discriminated against him,
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
asserts that Guardian and Terry violated HIPAA by sharing
private information about him and by placing harassing phone
calls to him and to his family physician, allegedly in
retaliation for complaining to authorities about
Guardian's actions. HIPAA, however, does not provide a
private right of action, and thus Phillips cannot state a
claim for relief under that statute. Miller v.
Nichols, 586 F.3d 53, 59 (1st Cir. 2009). Only the
Secretary of Health and Human Services can enforce its
provisions. See 42 U.S.C. § 1320d-5. The
district judge should therefore dismiss Phillips's claims
to the extent they are premised on HIPAA violations.
ADA and Rehabilitation Act
identifying himself as a disabled person, asserts that
Guardian, NHID, and their respective personnel violated his
rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973 by not resolving his complaints and harassing him.
II of the ADA provides that:
no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of
such disability, be excluded from participation in or be
denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities
of a public entity, or be ...