United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
DISMISSING FOUR CLAIMS WITH PREJUDICE
J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
John Jay Johnson, a non-prisoner pro se litigant,
filed this action against Aspirus Corporation, asserting six
claims: (1) a “HIPAA violation, ” (2)
“American Disabilities Act of 1990, ” (3)
“Abuse of Power, ” (4) “Fraude [sic] and
Deception, ” (5) “Defamation of Charactor [sic],
” and (6) “Negligence.” (Compl., ECF No.
1.) Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), the Court must
dismiss an action brought in forma pauperis if the
action is (1) frivolous or malicious, (2) fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or (3) seeks monetary
relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
Using that standard, Magistrate Judge Timothy P.
Greeley issued a Report and Recommendation (R
& R) recommending that the Court dismiss the following
claims: “HIPAA violation, ” “Abuse of
Power, ” “Fraude [sic] and Deception, ” and
“Defamation of Charactor [sic].” (ECF No. 5.)
Plaintiff filed timely objections to the R & R. (ECF No.
receiving objections to an R & R, the district judge
“shall make a de novo determination of those portions
of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). This Court may accept, reject, or modify
any or all of the magistrate judge's findings or
recommendations. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
conducting a de novo review of the R & R, the objections,
and the pertinent portions of the record, the Court concludes
that the R & R should be adopted and the claims indicated
by the magistrate judge should be dismissed with prejudice.
The Court notes that it is hard to decipher Plaintiff's
specific objections to the R & R; Plaintiff's
objections are primarily comprised of new factual allegations
that are not relevant to the claims of this case and
expressions of general disagreement with the magistrate
judge's findings. “The filing of vague, general, or
conclusory objections does not meet the requirement of
specific objections and is tantamount to a complete failure
to object.” Zimmerman v. Cason, 354 Fed.Appx.
228, 230 (6th Cir. 2009). Nonetheless, the Court will address
the issues that it can glean from the objections in
connection with the findings of the magistrate judge.
magistrate judge noted in the R & R that it is unclear
whether diversity jurisdiction exists. Plaintiff states in
his objections that diversity jurisdiction exists because
Aspirus runs medical facilities in both Wisconsin and
Michigan. (ECF No. 6 at PageID.68.) It appears that Plaintiff
misapprehends diversity jurisdiction. To take advantage of
diversity jurisdiction, opposing parties must be
citizens of different states. See 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). However, because the Court will permit Plaintiff to
proceed past initial screening on his claim of a violation of
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §
12101 et seq., federal jurisdiction is proper as
arising under federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
first claim asserts a violation of the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 42 U.S.C. §
1320a et seq. The magistrate judge recommended
dismissal of Plaintiff's claim of a HIPAA violation
because, “although [the Sixth Circuit has] not held
explicitly that there is no private right of action under
HIPAA, express or implied, other circuits have so
held.” Thomas v. Univ. of Tenn. Health Sci. Ctr. at
Memphis, No. 17-5708, 2017 WL 9672523, at *2 (6th Cir.
Dec. 6, 2017) (collecting cases). The recourse available to
an individual who believes that his HIPAA rights were
violated is to file a complaint with the Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS).
argues that there is a recent decision by the Connecticut
Supreme Court that concluded that HIPAA does confer a private
right of action. (ECF No. 6 at PageID.99-100.) However,
Plaintiff did not provide a citation or information
sufficient to locate the case he references, and, more
importantly, the Court finds the decisions of federal circuit
courts more persuasive, particularly on an issue of federal
also states that he has already informed DHHS of the alleged
violation because he sent a letter to the Office of Civil
Rights (OCR). (Id. at PageID.103-05.) But DHHS and
OCR are separate agencies, and even if Plaintiff had
complained to DHHS, that was the extent of his remedy under
HIPAA. Therefore, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's
claim of a HIPAA violation.
asserts an “Abuse of Power” claim under the ADA.
Plaintiff appears to argue that the abuse of power occurred
when Aspirus supervisors intimidated his relative following
the alleged HIPAA violation. (Id. at PageID.115.)
However, as the magistrate judge noted, Plaintiff does not
explain how Aspirus employees intimidated him or his
relative. Because Plaintiff has failed to articulate a basis
of this claim, the Court agrees with the magistrate judge
that the claim should be dismissed.
purports to bring a fraud claim pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
1035. (Id. at PageID.75.) But the cited provision is
a criminal statute. As the magistrate judge correctly
concluded, Plaintiff lacks standing to proceed on this claim
because the decision of whether to prosecute Aspirus