Texas Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Blogger Anonymity

Essent is deeply committed to its hospitals, its communities and its people and is focused on long-term, disciplined, and intelligent growth. Essent will make acquisitions only when the strongest opportunities present themselves; the number of hospitals in the company’s portfolio will not be the measure of our success.

In a case that pits David the Anonymous Blogger versus Essent the Goliath Healthcare Corporation, a Texas state appeals court ruled an anonymous blogger’s identity does not have to be revealed.

The-Paris-site This is not an anti-Essent blog, it is to counter their current business model. That which values the individual staff member or patient less than the buck. Business sense is one thing, creating an atmosphere of Stalinist Russia is another.

The ruling overturned the original verdict in the case of Essent Healthcare Inc. of Nashville, Tn, against the blog, The Paris Site. An extremely important ruling, the first of its kind in the state of Texas, it affects the First Amendment rights of bloggers or Free Speech on the Internet.

The appeals court overturned the original ruling of Judge Scott McDowell which required the Internet Service Provider Suddenlink Communications to reveal the identity of the owner of The Paris Site.

Why would a corporation go after a small time local blogger?

Essent defines quality as doing the right thing at the right time with the right people, all while treating patients the way we would like to be treated. At Essent, quality is not just a buzz word but an integral part of our day to day operations. Each hospital has a dedicated quality director, reporting directly to the CEO. In addition, each hospital has a local governing advisory board that works collaboratively with the medical staff to ensure that we are providing quality healthcare to our patients. [Essent Healthcare]

Not quite the latest rumor, but it is said that former CEO W. Hudson Connery Jr. was walked from Essent by security and that he is under investigation for embezzlement (a possible criminal charge, forthcoming?) I’d say that it qualifies as not “not unfriendly”. What do you think? I can’t say that this is first, or second, or third-hand (can you say anonymous?), but you never can tell. [The Paris Site]

Essent claimed defamation by the blog, loss of income and a violation of the federal Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act or HIPAA, dealing with patient’s privacy. Interestingly if a patient’s privacy were violated it would come from a person or persons employed by Essent or the hospital.

PRMC [Palestine Regional Medical Center] defines quality as doing the right thing at the right time with the right people, all while treating patients the way we would like to be treated. At PRMC, quality is not just a buzz word but an integral part of our day to day operations. Our hospital has a dedicated quality director, reporting directly to the CEO. [Essent Healthcare]

I’m not one of the so-called “John Does” mentioned in this suit (and Essent would have a hard time proving otherwise). That being said, I want to address the allegation made by Hud that this blog caused PRMC’s census to drop.

Had Hud looked beyond his office (and the BS Dickie was telling him), he would have seen the decline in census stems from the policies and practices Essent has put into place. Cut staff, demoralize who’s left, don’t give them the right tools to do the job, blow off keeping the place clean, anger the local physician staff, and folks are going to have less-than-stellar experiences. Bad news travels very quickly, and folks will talk, whether good or bad news. Those that can, will go elsewhere rather than deal with the possibility of a bad experience.
[The Paris Site]

The court of appeals ruled that Essent would have to prove its loss of income and any HIPAA violations which were a result of something posted on the blog. To date, no HIPAA violations have been filed. We believe the true intent of Essent is to discover who it is that continues to a burr in their side.

According to the Houston Chronicle the ruling only affects northeast Texas but can be used in other cases across the state.

Source – Houston Chronicle
Source – Essent Healthcare
Source – The Paris Site

By Little Baby Ginn
Image [www.christcenteredmall.com]

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