Limbaugh tries to keep medical records sealed

Attorneys file court action against seizure in Florida

December 16, 2003|By Peter Franceschina | Peter Franceschina,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Rush Limbaugh's attorneys went on the offensive yesterday, in an effort to keep the conservative radio commentator's medical records sealed after they recently were seized by prosecutors investigating his prescription drug use.

Limbaugh's attorneys filed a court action asking a judge to review the propriety of the seizure of the medical records, which are under seal and haven't been reviewed by prosecutors. They asked for a hearing in the next three days to assert Limbaugh's right to privacy and to prevent prosecutors from gaining access to them.

Limbaugh's attorneys couldn't be reached for comment late yesterday.

A spokesman for Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer declined to comment. Limbaugh has not been charged with any crimes and has denied breaking any laws.

The motion seeking a hearing on the issue says that Limbaugh has been harmed by the details of the prescription-drug investigation that were made public as part of the search warrants.

"No citizen would wish these highly personal details to be held by minions of the state to finger through at their leisure," the motion says. "Nor would any sane person wish his medical diagnosis and medical prescriptions to be widely published on television shows, tabloid newspapers, Web sites and the like.

"Mr. Limbaugh has already suffered the indignity of watching a list of his doctors and medications dramatically leafed though on air by television reporters. One can only imagine the exposure these records will receive if the state is allowed access to them."

The motion also says Limbaugh is prevented from getting proper medical treatment because all of his original medical records are in the hands of prosecutors.

In Florida, search warrants typically become public record 10 days after they are executed, and the four warrants in the Limbaugh investigation became national news on Dec. 4.

The warrants named the doctors from whom the records were seized and listed hundreds of pain pills prescribed to Limbaugh in a six-month period.

The warrants also revealed that authorities are looking into whether Limbaugh violated the state's "doctor shopping" law by getting doctors to write him overlapping narcotic drug prescriptions and failing to tell them about each other.

From March to September, Limbaugh picked up 1,733 hydrocodone pills, 90 OxyContin pills, 50 Xanax tablets and 40 pills of Kadian - time-release morphine - the warrants show. The court documents indicate that sometimes less than a week would lapse between different doctors' prescriptions for the painkillers.

Limbaugh acknowledged in October that he was addicted to painkillers, a week after media reports surfaced that his former housekeeper and her husband had supplied him with OxyContin and other powerful prescription drugs. He checked himself into a five-week treatment program and returned to the air in the middle of last month.

The search warrants provided that prosecutors couldn't review the medical records until approved by a judge.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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