Dillard v. Hoyt
Dillard v. Hoyt (U.S. Court of Appeals – Eighth Circuit, June 15, 2020): The Eight Circuit held that informational privacy is not a clearly established constitutional right and defendants, civil employees, were entitled to qualified immunity. Plaintiffs claimed defendants, police officers and a city attorney, violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights to “informational privacy” by disclosing insufficiently redacted reports of sexual abuse. Plaintiffs (minors at the time) were cast members of a reality television show in 2015. Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from tabloids, the defendants released partially redacted copies of reports from a 2006 investigation into sexual misconduct. The media identified the plaintiffs as the victims in the reports. Qualified immunity protects public officials from civil liability if the official’s conduct does not violate “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” The court held the right to informational privacy had an “uncertain status” because it: (1) is only assumed to exist via interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court but has never been definitively stated as a protected right; and (2) has never been held to be violated by the Eighth Circuit. The court concluded that a right that “does not clearly exist . . . cannot be clearly established.” Read the decision here.
View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – July 15, 2020.