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Civil Procedure

11th Circuit Must Decide: Did Lawyer with TB Plead a Sufficient Case Against CDC?

Posted Sep 15, 2010 2:07 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A lawyer who found himself at the center of an international furor after traveling with what was originally publicly proclaimed to be a highly contagious form of tuberculosis is fighting to revive a lawsuit against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alleging that the CDC violated his privacy by revealing his identity.

Although the CDC didn't initially disclose his name, it provided enough identifying details to enable others to do so, attorney Andrew Speaker contends in his lawsuit. Plus, he alleges that unidentified sources who did reveal his name to the Associated Press got the information from the CDC, the Daily Report said in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

This wasn't sufficient to meet heightened pleading standards imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years, a federal district court judge in the Northern District of Atlanta held last year when he dismissed the case. So now Speaker's counsel is appealing the dismissal to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Speaker, who it now appears actually didn't have a highly contagious form of TB, contends his personal injury practice was harmed and he has had difficulty getting clients as a result of the publicity. Potential clients are put off, he contends, both by the fact that he has the disease and by the widespread public disapprobation over his international travel, the article reports.

Although he traveled from Europe to the United States against doctor's orders, he was told at the time he was not contagious, Speaker says.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com (2007): "TB Attorney Released, Not Contagious"

ABAJournal.com (2007): "‘TB Lawyer’ Fights to Regain Practice"

ABAJournal.com (2007): "Tests Reveal Lawyer’s Fellow Air Travelers Free of TB"

ABAJournal.com (2009): "Lawyer Who Traveled While Infected with TB Sues CDC"

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