Posted on Nov 15, 1994 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 94-21
November 15, 1994
Legislator’s Workers’ Compensation Claims Public

[OIP Op. Ltr. No. 05-03 partially overrules this opinion to the extent that it states or implies that the UIPA’s privacy exception in section 92F-13(1), HRS, either prohibits public disclosure or mandates confidentiality.]

The OIP advised the Chief Clerk of the State House of Representatives to make public the notices that were filed concerning a former legislator’s work injury that resulted in her receipt of workers’ compensation benefits, after segregating from the notices the legislator’s home address, home telephone number, date of birth, and social security number. In two newspaper articles the former legislator publicly acknowledged the receipt of workers’ compensation benefits from the State of Hawaii in connection with a heart attack she suffered in 1983 while she was a State Representative.

The OIP found that while individuals have a significant privacy interest in information concerning their medical history, diagnosis, condition, evaluation or treatment, this privacy interest was substantially diminished when the former legislator publicly confirmed in a news interview her work injury, a heart attack, and her receipt of workers’ compensation benefits. The OIP also found that the public interest in disclosure of the reports at issue outweighed the former legislator’s diminished privacy interest in the reports. The OIP also explained that it would be issuing a separate opinion letter concerning the disclosure of basic workers’ compensation claim information in cases where the claimant has not publicly acknowledged the receipt of benefits and the nature of the claimant’s work injury.

full text