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Ohio Supreme Court Says Death Records in a Database Aren't Subject to Public Disclosure

19 Apr 2024 3:55 PM | Anonymous

In a 5-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that names and addresses contained in a state database of people who died are not subject to disclosure under the state's open records laws.

Justices decided that particular information is protected health info.

Former Columbus Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow wanted cause-of-death information from the Ohio Department of Health at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The department provided some information but withheld the names and addresses of those who died, saying state law prohibited release of protected health information.

Writing for the majority, Justice Patrick Fischer said the names and addresses combined with other medical information would constitute protected health information.

The court rejected Ludlow's claim that while the law protects privacy for living people, it does not apply to deceased people.

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