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Name: Mansell v. Otto
Case #: B155418
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 04/29/2003
Subsequent History: Modified & Petn. rehrg. denied 5/29/03

A crime victim sued the alleged perpetrator and his criminal defense counsel for invasion of privacy based on the unauthorized reading of her mental health records by the defendant and other members of the defense team. The court held that plaintiff could not state a claim because the defendants obtained the medical and psychiatric records through the court’ s normal processes. In response to a court order (after defense counse had unsuccessfully tried to subpoena the records), the hospital sent the records to the court, which released them to the prosecution, who in turn provided them to the defense team. Later, a different judge quashed the subpoena (and all records were returned the victim). It was the prosecutor’s duty to protect the victim’s right of privacy. Finally, the court found the litigation privilege inapplicable to the situation because defendants had only read the information, which was a noncommunicative act.