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By Gina Loudon
A Malibu, Calif., based attorney, Robert E. Barnes, has filed a class-action suit against the IRS alleging that 15 agents stole the medical records of 10 million people in a raid on a storage facility called “John Doe Company” just weeks ago, according to Courthouse News.
The action alleges that the information on private citizens that was taken was their most intimate medical records, including psychological, obstetric and gynecological, sexual and drug treatment documentation, and other medical treatment.
It alleges that the agents stole more than 60 million records that violate the privacy of more than a million Californians and a total of more than 10 million Americans.
According to the complaint, the original warrant did not authorize the seizure of the data of others in the facility, and none of the 10 million whose data was seized were under any known criminal investigation.
The “John Doe Company” said that 15 agents showed up in the place of business with a warrant to search items belonging to a former employee.
They allege that the warrant turned into a raid of more than 10 million records because of the data that was taken. The suit says that company employers and employees tried to explain to agents that they were a HIPPA compliant facility, and that they should not take private data files and computers of those who had nothing to do with the former employee in question.
They reported they also tried to refuse when their personal items were seized, but the agents took their phones, files and data as well as other proprietary data, according to the suit. At the time of the filing, the case says that none of the items had been returned.
Barnes claims that the medical data in question would affect a staggering one out of every 25 adults in America. He said the records seized include those of prominent, “leading and controversial” political, entertainment, and financial figures, as well as numerous ordinary citizens.
But this case gets even more bizarre.
“Adding insult to injury, after unlawfully seizing the records and searching their intimate parts, defendants decided to use John Doe Company’s media system to watch basketball, order (sic) pizza and Coca-Cola, to take in part of the NCAA tournament, illustrating their complete disregard of the court’s order and the Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights,” the documents allege.
Some of the accusations are difficult to believe, but if they are true, will set the bar in terms of IRS violations of private citizens.
The suit asks for $25,000 in compensatory damages “per violation, per individual,” plus other damages for constitutional violations.
If Barnes prevails, he and his plaintiffs will receive more than $250 million from the IRS.
In a Sacramento case, Barnes represented “The Peace and Freedom Party” in 2012.
Calls and emails to the law firm of Robert E. Barnes, the tax attorney bringing the suit, were not immediately returned.