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In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 photograph, Dr. Daniel Shuman, a member of the medical staff at Ashland Health Center, leaves the records area in Ashland, Kan. The center draws doctors to rural Kansas by offering paid time for international mission work. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

IRS sued for improperly seizing the medical records of 10 million Americans

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Amid a firestorm about the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting conservative groups and wide concern that the tax service will be administering Obamacare, the IRS is also the subject of a class action lawsuit alleging that 15 of its agents improperly seized 10 million Americans’ medical records.

Attorney Robert Barnes filed the lawsuit in mid-March on behalf of a John Doe Company and individuals whose records were seized in California Superior Court, according to a report from the Courthouse News Service.

“This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) agents (collectively referred to as ‘Defendants’ herein) during a raid of John Doe Company, in the southern district of California, on March 11, 2011,” the complaint, quoted by Courthouse News, reads. “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, including at least 1,000,000 Californians.”

The complaint explains there was no warrant authorizing the seizure of the medical records and the records were not germane to the IRS search. The complaint alleges that the seizure violated the 4th Amendment, according to the extensive quotes from the complaint complied by Courthouse News.

“These medical records contained intimate and private information of more than 10,000,000 Americans, information that by its nature includes information about treatment for any kind of medical concern, including psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual or drug treatment, and a wide range of medical matters covering the most intimate and private of concerns,” the complaint reads.

The records are believed to concern the medical records of every judge in California, every state court employee in California, members of the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild, and people in “all walks of life.”

“The search warrant authorized the seizure of financial records related principally to a former employee of the company; it did not authorize any seizure of any health care or medical record of any persons, least of all third parties completely unrelated to the matter,” the complaint, as quoted by the news outlet explains further.

“[E]ven though defendants knew that the records they were seizing were not included within the scope of the search warrant, the defendants nonetheless searched and seized the records without making any attempt to segregate the files from those that could possibly be related to the search warrant,” it adds. “In fact, no effort was made at all to even try maintaining the illusion of legitimacy and legality.”

The complaint, as quoted by Courthouse News, further alleges that the agents used the company’s facilities to watch basketball, order pizza and Coca Cola “illustrating their complete disregard of the court’s order and the Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights.”

The complaint seeks $25,000 in compensatory damages per individual, according to Courthouse News, a declaratory judgment protecting the information seized as well as the return and elimination of the records from all government databases.

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