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Limbaugh loses appeal in court

Ruling backs seizure of talk show host's medical records

Rush Limbaugh broadcasting his radio show in a March, 2004 photo.
Rush Limbaugh
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (CNN) -- The state acted correctly when it seized Rush Limbaugh's medical records, Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal announced in a written opinion issued Wednesday.

The seizure did not affect the popular talk-show host's right to privacy, the court said Tuesday in its 13-page ruling.

Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, had argued that his client's privacy rights were violated when the state attorney's office used a search warrant to seize the records, which gave Limbaugh no opportunity to challenge the seizure.

James Martz, assistant state attorney, had argued that giving notice, or using a subpoena, would have compromised the investigation into whether Limbaugh was obtaining prescription painkillers illegally.

The state attorney's office in Palm Beach County has said Limbaugh is under investigation for possibly going from doctor to doctor to illegally buy the drugs, which is a felony in Florida.

Limbaugh, who has not been charged, has denied the accusation and accuses investigators of going on a fishing expedition in order to embarrass him.

The American Civil Liberties Union has supported Limbaugh's position, arguing the outcome could affect doctor-patient confidentiality.

The court of appeal heard oral arguments April 7 in the case.

Medical records under seal

Prosecutors seized Limbaugh's medical records in late November and early December of 2003. Authorities also seized Limbaugh's prescription records from several drugstores from which Limbaugh obtained 2,000 pills over six months, prosecutors said.

The medical records remain under court seal pending a decision in the case. Limbaugh can petition for a rehearing.

After his former housekeeper sold a story to the National Enquirer in which she said she sold prescription painkillers to the talk show host, Limbaugh admitted his addiction to pain medication last October and left his radio show for five weeks while he attended a rehabilitation program.

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