Jennifer Clark


In New York suppression of evidence is only appropriate where constitutional, statutory, or decisional authority mandates it, even if obtained by unethical or unlawful means. The courts have been split on how to apply this standard to evidence obtained in violation of HIPAA. In the case In re Miguel M., the New York Court of Appeals addressed this question for the first time, finding that such evidence should be suppressed. Because it is the first authoritative case in New York addressing the evidentiary impact of a HIPAA violation, it is tempting to read Miguel M. as creating a new evidentiary rule. The decision, however, was drafted very narrowly in the context of a hearing to compel assisted outpatient treatment under Kendra’s Law. Accordingly, Miguel M. should not be interpreted as a bar to the admission of medical evidence obtained in violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule in other types of cases. Rather, it suggests that courts should consider the type of proceeding, the type of medical evidence at issue, the identity of the parties, and the reason for the introduction of the evidence when determining whether suppression is appropriate. In this manner, In re Miguel M. can be harmonized with existing jurisprudence and be used to provide more equitable outcomes for litigants.