United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION RE DOCUMENT NO: 3
CONTRERAS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Defendant LabCorp's Motion to Dismiss
Hope Lee-Thomas brings suit against Defendant Laboratory
Corporation of America (“LabCorp”) for failing to
protect her privacy and confidentiality in violation of the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(“HIPAA”). LabCorp moved to dismiss on the ground
that Ms. Lee-Thomas's complaint failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted because HIPAA does not
provide individuals with a private cause of action. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants LabCorp's
motion and dismisses Ms. Lee-Thomas's case.
Lee-Thomas was a patient at Providence Hospital in
Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2017, where she received
treatment from Defendant, LabCorp. Compl. at 3, ECF No.
Ms. Lee-Thomas was instructed by a LabCorp technician to
submit her medical information using a computer intake
station on the premises. Pl.'s Att'y Letter
(“Letter”) at 1. LabCorp's computer intake
station was in close proximity to a Quest Diagnostics intake
station, and Ms. Lee-Thomas's personal health information
was visible to another patient who was using the Quest
Diagnostics station. Compl. at 3. When Ms. Lee-Thomas
realized her health information was being disclosed within
eyesight and earshot of another patient, she informed a
LabCorp technician of the violation and photographed the two
stations in question. Id.
3, 2017, Ms. Lee-Thomas sent a letter to Providence Hospital
informing them of possible HIPAA privacy violations.
See Letter. She then filed a complaint with the
Department of Health and Human Services's
(“HHS”) Office of Civil Rights. HHS Compl. at 2.
On October 10, 2017, Ms. Lee-Thomas filed an additional
complaint with the District of Columbia's Office of Human
Rights (“OHR”) citing LabCorp's failure to
make proper “public accommodations” by
maintaining non-HIPAA compliant facilities. Compl. at 2-3.
Ms. Lee-Thomas's administrative complaints were
unsuccessful. See HHS Resp.; OHR Resp. On November
15, 2017, HHS informed Ms. Lee-Thomas the agency would not
pursue her claim. HHS Resp. at 1-3. On November 28, 2017, the
District of Columbia alerted Ms. Lee-Thomas that her
complaint was similarly dismissed based on her failure to
state a claim. OHR Resp. at 1-2. The District of Columbia
informed Ms. Lee-Thomas of her right to bring a private
action before the D.C. Superior Court and Ms. Lee-Thomas
proceeded to do so. Id. at 2. LabCorp removed the
case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446.
Def.'s Notice of Removal (“Notice”), ECF No.
the Court is LabCorp's motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6) on the ground that Ms. Lee-Thomas failed to state a
claim because HIPAA does not provide for a private cause of
action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Def.'s Mot. Dismiss
(“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 3. For the
forthcoming reasons, the Court grants LabCorp's motion to
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
contain a “short and plain statement of the
claim” in order to give the defendant fair notice of
the claim and the grounds upon which it rests. Fed.R.Civ.P.
8(a)(2). A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) does not
test a plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits,
but rather whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim
upon which relief may be granted. See Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). A court considering a
motion to dismiss presumes the complaint's factual
allegations are true and must construe them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. See, e.g., United
States v. Philip Morris, Inc., 116 F.Supp.2d 131, 135
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter . . . to ‘state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Assuming all factual allegations are true, a
plaintiff's right to relief must rise above “the
speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555-56 (2007) (citations omitted).
she has filed this lawsuit pro se, Ms.
Lee-Thomas's claim is held to a “less stringent
standard than formal pleadings.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). That being said,
pro se plaintiffs must still comply with the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, see Jarrell v. Tisch, 656
F.Supp. 237, 239 (D.D.C. 1987), and the Court need not assume
the role of plaintiff's advocate. See Davis v.
Kelly, 160 F.3d 917, 922 (2d Cir. 1998); Sun v. D.C.
Gov't, 133 F.Supp.3d 155, 168 n.6 (D.D.C. 2015)
(“[I]t is not the Court's job to canvass the record
for documents supporting a pro se party's