State Government Can't Sue Itself, Court Rules

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According to Courthouse News, an Indiana agency that protects the interests of patients with developmental disabilities can't sue the state's social services administration to obtain the medical records of a mentally ill patient who died, the 7th Circuit ruled.

A branch of state government cannot draw on federal civil rights laws to sue another branch of government, the Chicago-based appeals court decided. "Yet that is exactly what Advocacy Services is trying to do," Chief Judge Easterbrook wrote. "This suit might as well be captioned Indiana v. Indiana."

Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services sued the LaRue Carter Memorial Hospital and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, along with various state officials, over the state-run hospital's refusal to turn over medical records of a deceased patient who was mentally ill.

Advocacy Services, which oversees federal grant money for people with developmental disabilities, was looking for evidence of abuse that could be used to spur medical improvements.

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