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Law

Court denies Limbaugh's appeal

Conservative radio host challenges seizure of medical records


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Rush Limbaugh
Justice and Rights
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

(CNN) -- The Florida Supreme Court has turned down conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh's request to review a lower court decision that the state could seize his medical records.

In a 4-3 decision, the court said it would not consider a motion for rehearing.

Limbaugh has been under investigation into whether he illegally went from doctor to doctor to get multiple painkiller prescriptions.

He has not been charged and denies the allegation, saying investigators are on a fishing expedition aimed at embarrassing him.

In October, Florida's 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the state did not violate Limbaugh's privacy rights when it seized his medical records with a search warrant.

Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, has argued that using a warrant gave Limbaugh no opportunity to challenge the seizure. On Thursday, Black released a statement that said in part, "I have said from the start that there was no violation of the doctor-shopping statute, but that Rush Limbaugh should not have to give up his right to privacy in order to prove his innocence.

"Mr. Limbaugh appropriately sought treatment for severe back pain and for pain from an operation to restore his hearing. He has not been charged with a crime, and he should not be charged. His medical records will show that he received legitimate medical treatment for legitimate medical reasons."

The American Civil Liberties Union has supported Limbaugh's position, saying the seizure of medical records violated Florida's constitutional right of privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality.

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

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

Using several doctors to get such prescriptions is a felony in Florida.

Limbaugh's medical records have remained under court seal pending a decision in the case. It was unclear what the next step would be.

The seizure came after Limbaugh's former housekeeper revealed to the National Enquirer in October 2003 that she had sold him prescription painkillers. He then publicly admitted to his addiction to pain medication and left his radio show for five weeks to check into a rehabilitation program.


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