The Internal Revenue Service stole and improperly accessed 60 million medical records after raiding a California company, according to a legal complaint filed in March with the California superior court for San Diego. Fifteen IRS agents are now facing a class-action lawsuit in the matter.
“In a case involving solely a tax matter involving a former employee of the company, these agents stole more than 60,000,000 medical records of more than 10,000,000 Americans” the complaint, filed by attorney Robert Barnes, alleges. “No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search.”
The complaint goes on to describe how IRS agents ignored the warnings of IT personnel and executives at the company in question, the John Doe Company, and accuses the IRS of violating the plantiff’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
Following the seizure of records, IRS agents also used the company’s system for leisure activities, according to the compaint. “Adding insult to injury, after unlawfully seizing the records and searching their intimate parts, defendants decided to use John Doe Company’s media system to watch basketball, ordering pizza and Coca-Cola, to take in part of the NCAA tournament, illustrating their complete disregard of the court’s order and the Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights” it states.
If substantiated, these allegations are likely to add to the furor sparked by recent revelations that the agency, between 2010 and 2012, targeted tea-party groups for special scrutiny. An inspector general’s report released yesterday said the inappropriate focus on conservative groups resulted from lax management.
The lawsuit is seeking $25,000 in compensatory damages for each violation, a declaratory judgment protecting the privileged information of the seized records, an injunction preventing the IRS from sharing the records, and an order requiring the agency to purchse government databases of the records.
The full complaint is available here. The lawsuit was first reported March 14 by Courthouse News Service.
UPDATE: This piece has been modified since its original posting.