Kuhl’s distortions and evasiveness about extremely troubling right-to-privacy ruling

Several senators questioned Kuhl about her 1999 ruling in a case brought by a breast cancer patient whose doctor had brought a drug company salesman into the examining room to watch while the half-naked patient underwent an exam of her breasts and abdomen. When the woman, Azucena Sanchez-Scott, filed suit against the doctor, the drug company, and the salesman for invasion of privacy, with an additional claim against the doctor for professional negligence, Kuhl dismissed the invasion of privacy claims outright, preventing them from being considered by a jury. Her ruling was later unanimously overturned by the California Court of Appeal.

Remarkably, at her hearing Kuhl testified that Sanchez-Scott had not asserted any invasion of privacy claims against the doctor and that she had not dismissed any such claims. Although Kuhl later admitted in an April 29 letter to Sen. Hatch that her testimony was incorrect, her testimony had the effect of deflecting senators’ concerns about her disturbingly narrow and legally erroneous view of a medical patient’s privacy rights. To this day she has not answered those questions.

The PFAW report also documents that Kuhl’s testimony as to why she did not follow relevant legal precedent in this case conflicts with her actual ruling, and that a recent letter from Justice Paul Turner, author of the Court of Appeal decision reversing Kuhl’s ruling – a letter that Kuhl has cited in support of her confirmation – is also demonstrably at odds with the clear record in the case and his own opinion for the court.

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