Two chiropractic clinics have been found to have violated the Personal Information Privacy Act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices after medical files were dumped in a public park near Mayflower, according to a release from the Arkansas attorney general's office.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced Monday a final judgement in a lawsuit against 501 Pain & Rehab, LLC, in Conway, and 501 Pain and Rehab Family Clinic of Russellville, LLC, as well as owners, Dr. John D'Onofrio and Donny McCuien. The lawsuit was filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
The court found the clinics failed to properly dispose of the personal information as required by law, and the defendants will have to pay $321,395 in civil penalties and legal fees, according to the news release.
The state filed the lawsuit in May 2021 after investigators identified that the medical files dumped in the park contained almost 1,000 instances of patients' unencrypted and unredacted personal information. The documents included information such as patient names, social security numbers, driver's licenses or state identification numbers, patient histories, medical diagnoses and medical treatment plans.
"These healthcare providers violated their duty to protect their patients' information, and now they are being held accountable," Rutledge said in the release. "This judgment reinforces the fact that consumers must be able to trust their healthcare providers to follow the law and prioritize the protection of sensitive data."
In November 2020, Mayflower city employees told local law enforcement they noticed a truck parked near a wooded area when they arrived to work in Palarm Park, a public park near the Arkansas River, according to the news release.
The driver abruptly drove away, according to the release, and city employees found a number of medical files near where the truck was parked. The files were determined to be patient records from 501 Pain and Rehab.
Law enforcement later determined the description of the driver matched McCuien and that the truck matched a vehicle registered in McCuien's name, the news release stated. Because documents in all of the files identified 501 Pain and Rehab, the files were taken to the Arkansas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, which reported the incident to the attorney general's office.
An investigation revealed approximately 271 files, created between 2016 and 2018, were discarded in the park.