Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Humphers v. First Interstate Bank of Oregon case brief

Humphers v. First Interstate Bank of Oregon case brief summary
696 P.2d 527 (1985)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant, personal representative of doctor's estate, sought review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals (Oregon), which reversed the circuit court's dismissal of the complaint of plaintiff, biological mother, regarding her claims that the doctor breached a confidential relationship and committed an invasion of privacy when he revealed her identity to a daughter to whom she had given up for adoption.

CASE FACTS

Plaintiff, biological mother, brought suit against defendant, personal representative of doctor's estate, under numerous theories after the doctor revealed her identity to a daughter whom she had given up for adoption. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court's dismissal of some of plaintiff's claims and concluded that plaintiff could sue for breach of a confidential relationship and invasion of privacy.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed in part and held that the doctor had no privilege to disregard his professional duty of secrecy under Or. Rev. Stat. § 677.190(5) in light of the constraints imposed by Or. Rev. Stat. § 7.211, which provided that court records in adoption proceedings could not be inspected or disclosed except upon court order. 
  • Oregon Rev. Stat. § 432.420 required a court order before sealed adoption records could be opened. 
  • Plaintiff had authority to proceed with respect to the claim of breach of confidentiality. 
  • The court reversed in part and held that plaintiff could not proceed under her claim for invasion of privacy because the doctor did not pry into a confidence but failed to keep one.

CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court that plaintiff, biological mother, could proceed under her claim of breach of confidentiality in a confidential relationship against defendant, personal representative of doctor's estate, because the doctor had no privilege to disregard his professional duty. The court reversed with respect to plaintiff's claim of invasion of privacy because the doctor had no general duty of secrecy.

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