A federal lawsuit filed by Daybreak Youth Services against the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to prevent investigators from disclosing and using patient records seized during a search of the treatment facility was dismissed Wednesday. The case is continuing, however, in Clark County Superior Court.
After both parties agreed, the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning Daybreak could refile the lawsuit at a later date. The complaint for injunctive relief was filed early last month in U.S. District Court in Tacoma and listed as defendants Sheriff Chuck Atkins, Undersheriff Mike Cooke, Sgt. Christopher Luque, Detective Adam Beck and Sgt. Brent Waddell.
In June 2018, the sheriff’s office began investigating alleged criminal conduct at Daybreak, which provides youth outpatient and inpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment at 11910 N.E. 154th St. Deputies investigated allegations of sexual assault, client and staff safety, and what investigators saw as a pattern of inadequate reporting as required by law. Investigators served a series of search warrants Sept. 11 at the facility.
Citing federal confidentiality laws, specifically 42 C.F.R. Part 2, which speaks to the disclosure of identities of patients seeking substance use disorder treatment and facilities’ patient records, Daybreak asked a federal judge to declare that material seized in September by investigators was done so illegally.
The nonprofit previously filed a motion in Superior Court to halt investigators’ examination of the information shortly after it was seized and to limit their search. But a judge ruled deputies were acting within the scope of search warrants issued by the court and denied Daybreak’s request for a temporary restraining order.
Then, earlier this month, another local judge ruled that deputies had substantial reason to seize the records.
“The Clark County Superior Court granted the Clark County Sheriff’s Office’s motion for an order of good cause on July 5, 2019. Based on this ruling, the defendants asked Daybreak if it would be willing to stipulate to a dismissal of the federal court action,” civil deputy prosecutor Leslie Lopez said in an email.
The parties were back in court Friday on Daybreak’s motion for an entry of protective order, which Judge Jennifer Snider granted.
Daybreak’s attorney, David H. Smith, said Thursday there’s an ongoing dispute between the facility and county about what the good cause order means. The motion for good cause “was an attempt to bless things retroactively,” he said, and in response, Daybreak wants to “retroactively enforce privacy protections.”
“We want to make sure the privacy interests of Daybreak’s patients are being respected,” Smith said.
The order granted Friday outlines how substance use disorder patient records, protected health information, and health care information should be used and disclosed.
On Thursday, Smith described the situation as unique and said Daybreak is in the process of engaging appellate counsel.
“I think the appellate courts would find this of great concern, because the reality is the feds would never use a search warrant to get patient records because it doesn’t respect privacy concerns of patients,” he said. “It’s a wholly inappropriate way to get records.”