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Court eyes liability for STD disclosure

ALBANY — While he’s identified only as John Doe in court papers, the man’s treatment for a sexually transmitted disease was revealed by a nurse at an upstate New York medical facility to someone who knew his real name — his girlfriend, who was also the nurse’s sister-in-law.

Now New York’s top court is considering whether Guthrie Clinic Steuben in Corning may be liable for the 2010 violation of his privacy rights. The clinic fired both its president and the nurse within days.

A federal judge dismissed Doe’s lawsuit, concluding the clinic wasn’t liable for the nurse’s actions outside her duties.

Now the Court of Appeals has been asked to clarify if every John Doe can sue medical corporations under state law for such unauthorized disclosures.

It heard arguments in the case Tuesday.