State investigators violated Rush Limbaugh’s right to privacy when they seized his medical records from his doctor’s offices, Roy Black, his attorney, argued to a Florida appeals court yesterday. The Miami Herald says prosecutors got the records by meeting with a judge without Limbaugh or Black present after learning that the radio host had obtained more than 2,000 prescription pills from four different doctors in a six-month period.
Prosecutor James Martz argued that notifying Limbaugh first could have compromised their efforts to learn whether he violated drug laws. The state believes the records will show that Limbaugh, 53, went “doctor shopping” — seeking multiple prescriptions from different doctors — as a way to purchase mass amounts of painkillers. He has admitted an addiction to painkillers, but has not been charged with a crime.
A win for Limbaugh in the appeals court likely would bury efforts to prosecute him, the Herald says. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain, the Florida Pain Initiative, and the Association of Florida Physicians and Surgeons all are supporting Limbaugh. “The outcome…is going to affect the privacy of medical records and doctor-patient conversations for everybody in Florida,” said the ACLU’s Howard Simon. “We either have privacy protection in Florida or we don’t.”
Martz said investigators were working under “an awful lot of good faith” and said such searches are necessary to curb the expanding “cottage industry” of illicit prescription drug sales.