The Appellate Group

Aguila v. Planned Parenthood of Utah

Aguila v. Planned Parenthood of Utah, 2023 UT App 49 (Mortensen, J.)

Statutory Interpretation/Torts

Aguila underwent an abortion procedure at Planned Parenthood. While there, she saw an acquaintance who worked at Planned Parenthood. Aguila alleged the worker revealed details of her procedure to mutual friends, acquaintances, and shared information about it on social media. Aguila filed a notice of intent to initiate a malpractice claim. Aguila then filed a complaint against Planned Parenthood and the worker. Planned Parenthood filed a motion to dismiss. The district court dismissed Aguila’s complaint on all claims and against all parties. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding:

  • The district court erred in dismissing the complaint against Planned Parenthood because Aguila pled an alleged employer-employee relationship. Aguila pled that the worker was employed by Planned Parenthood at the times discussed in the complaint. 
  • The notion that an employee’s illegal conduct can never fall within the course and scope of employment is not supported by Utah caselaw. 
  • The district court correctly dismissed Aguila’s malpractice claim against the worker because it lacked jurisdiction owing to Aguila’s failure to observe the prelitigation requirements under the Health Care Malpractice Act. The worker fell under the definition of a health care provider in the statute. The alleged disclosure of private medical records constituted health care as defined by statute.
  • Practice Tip: The question of whether an employee is acting within the scope of employment is ordinarily a question of fact. It is only when the employee’s activity is so clearly within or outside the scope of employment that reasonable minds cannot differ that the court may decide the issue as a matter of law.

Read the full court opinion