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Man Holds Up American Airlines Flight Claiming HIPAA Rights Over Not Wearing a Face Mask

Best-selling conservative author David J. Harris Jr. held up an entire American Airlines flight on Saturday, claiming he could not wear a face mask due to medical reasons – and then saying American could not ask about his conditions because it violated his HIPAA rights. Harris laid out his concerns in a video shot while he was still on board the plane and posted to his Instagram account, as outlined by the Mediaite website. “So because I declared that I have a medical reason to not wear a mask,… ( More...

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WhiteKnight77 37
Just put him on the no-fly list and let him drive from now on.
Cindy Savage 76
As a doctor, I can tell you the HIPAA law prevents me, as a doc, from discussing your medical care without your consent. It does not bar the airlines from asking YOU to prove your medical exemption. In fact, the ADA doesn't either. The ADA requires public entities to provide reasonable accomodation for disabled folks, but not private businesses. Nor are those private businesses expected to provide any accomodation outside of proof of disability. If you have a breathing condition outside of anxiety that makes mask wearing difficult, you are at a higher risk of Covid complications and have no business leaving home, let alone sitting in a plane.
I agree with you 100% here, except for one small thing. The Air Carrier Access Act does require the airlines to provide accommodation for certain disabilities, let alone give the airlines the right to ask for documentation to prove that the disability the passenger has is real.

For example, service animals If the traveler is blind, obviously the harness on the service animal is all the proof the airline needs. For ESAs, the airline does have the right to ask the passenger for documentation of the need for the ESA, plus that documentation must be from the physician who diagnosed the passenger, and on their letterhead, so it can be verified. If the passenger can't provide that, the airline can boot them off.
garritt 2
lynx318 19
Kick him off or don't let him board, let the aircraft fly. Why hold up the rest of complying public?
Daniel Gless 2
Umm, because as a trumpist it is all about ME ME ME, the rest of the world be damned.
lynx318 2
He's just an arrogant idiot that wants to assert his 'freedom' by not wearing a mask. He must have worn one to get past the ticket gate and board, so his argument for medical reasons id bull!
WhiteKnight77 0
How about just leave politics out of discussions here? It is bad enough that reporters have to include unneeded adjectives in stories such as the above, and even worse when it is brought into the discussions here.
Daniel Gless 3
WHY! That's what it is all about. His 'conservative' moniker that he holds high and his blatant disregard for publically accepted norms...because he is "SPECIAL!"
No, he brought up the politics, I am just acknowledging it for what it is.
He can drive himself now because even Amtrak will not accept him.
Jack Metcalf -2
You're right, he should act more like a democrat and burn a city instead.
Mask wearing is not a political issue. The guy’s conservatism or liberalism is irrelevant. He’s rude whether he plans to vote for Biden or Trump. We’ve gotta get beyond political labels when it comes to public health.
Alister Grigg 8
Well said!
Randy Barron 8
I agree that mask-wearing should not be political.

However, so-called "conservatives" have made it an issue.

The fact that this guy is a "best-selling conservative author" is germane, because it's conservatives like Louie Gohmert and Herman Cain and that guy in the White House who have made it some kind of "freedom" issue when it's a public health issue.

So, yes, we need to get beyond the labels. It would help if those who label themselves "conservative" would get with the program.
is Herman Cain a good example? I'm asking because he's not an appropriate one since he died of covid yesterday.
garritt 1
..what radical extremist is next ?
Bob Jordan 1
Don't hold your breath waiting on them to conform to the needs of anyone, other than their own selfishness that is...
Bernie20910 1
"I agree that mask-wearing should not be political."

(jumps into the political quagmire with both feet)
Alan Glover -1
Nothing about riot and protest spreading of the Chinese coronavirus?

How very liberal of you.
garritt 1
Alan Glover -1
Precisely. I have a feeling the label "liberal" writer would never have appeared in the article if it had been the case.
Daniel Gless 3
Being liberal it would NOT have been the case. We wear masks because we give a damn about humanity instead of ourselves. Simple enough?
ed lang 48
That guy is an asshole who wanted hos 15 minutes of fame at everyone else's expense.
Craig Allam 16
Absolutely right! Pre-planned it right down to filming the reactions; hopefully AA will simply ban him for life
He was a narcissist....lots of them around lately...
Larry Horton 13
Yeah, No HIPPA doesn't work that way. Coming from a person who has dealt with HIPPA for the alt 10 years.
Rainwash 24
Ban this guy for life, charge him for the delay.
phutmacher 12
.. and this is why I'm not flying anywhere soon.
ToddBaldwin3 23
This really sounds like a set up. He wanted a confrontation to make a point.
Or to promote his "brand".
Bob Jordan 4
Yeah, the "insane orange" brand with the goofy red hats...
Blue Wave coming to a precinct near you 11-3-2020!!
Bernie20910 11
Sucks to be you Mr. Harris, have a nice drive to your destination.
Pa Thomas 25
I'm not a doctor, but I stayed at Motel 6 once a few years ago. The man's problem? He is an idiot. I hope he gets the help he needs.
David Isaacs 38
Here is where his rights meet the rights of others to have safe surrondings. Let him find another way to get to his destination.
Tom Bruce 42
I'm a conservative and I WEAR A GD MASK to help protect others... what a jerk
Cindy Savage 10
Good on you! The mask is a public health issue, not a political statement.
Dave Hahn 8
I am not convinced of the mask thing but if that is their rule,either wear one or don’t fly their airplane
Even if everything he says is true...that doesn't mean a business doesn't still have the right to deny you service if you don't comply with their rules.

Don't want to/Can't wear a mask? Fine, don't. But then don't demand someone ELSE comply with YOUR rules. Find another carrier, or find another means of transportation that doesn't violate your health condition and your HIIPA privacy rights.
paul gilpin -4
you're not grasping the core concept of HIPAA are you?
David Stark 15
The core concept is privacy of personal medical information. But HIPAA's coverage is not absolute. Nobody should be able to simply "declare" that they have a medical condition in order to avoid some requirement without having to offer some proof. The signed certification by a doctor does not have to state the details, just the fact that the doctor has authorized such an exemption for what he deems to be valid medical reasons. Those reasons should be documented in the patient's records, which are accessible under certain legally defined conditions.
Cindy Savage 16
HIPAA is a law designed to safeguard medical communications and that's it. An airline is not covered under HIPAA, except as an employer dealing with employees.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

latteju 13
Your example is irrelevant.
That baker won't get sick from baking that cake.
Other people on that plane can get sick from that one selfish guy who thinks he is smarter than all scientists combined.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Alister Grigg 16
The virus doesn't give a hoot about anybody's 'rights'. It'll happily infect and kill you regardless of what country you live in, or what your personal values are. The sooner the US gets it's collective non-political head around this the sooner it can start to fully address this problem.
clarify 10
You're missing the distinction between discriminating against people because of who they are (e.g., their race, gender, sexual orientation) vs. discriminating against people for how they choose to behave. Furthermore the relevance of behavior goes up exponentially during a pandemic when there is a highly virulent, highly pathogenic disease on the loose.
I say again. In fact, no I won't say it again. I'll let Justice Harlan say it again:

The liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States to every person within its jurisdiction does not import an absolute right in each person to be, at all times and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint. There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis, organized society could not exist with safety to its members. Society based on the rule that each one is a law unto himself would soon be confronted with disorder and anarchy. Real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others. This court has more than once recognized it as a fundamental principle that

"persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State, of the perfect right of the legislature to do which no question ever was, or upon acknowledged general principles ever can be, made so far as natural persons are concerned."

- Justice John Marshall Harlan, United States Supreme Court, Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, 1905.

What you are saying is irrelevant. If this is for the common good of our society, in which the mask mandates are, then you do get to pick and choose. In this case, with the ACAA giving the airlines the right to do so, they can, will, and just did.
jmonroe 15
I call myself a Conservative but some of these people are just nuts.
Chuck Lavazzi 4
The "conservative" label has been hijacked by childish loudmouths like Harris who are not "conservative" by any sane definition of the term. I wonder where they learned that behavior? (:-)
garritt 3
Bob Jordan 1
Guilty as charged!!
Bruce Schimmel 13
a jerk and a blowhard. this is grandstanding.
people who won't take simple steps to avoid infecting others should be denied service. end of story.
AA can't violate his HIPAA rights because AA isn't a medical provider or a insurance company. But hey, at least he didn't call it HIPPA!

There's a whole Twitter feed of these:
This man, Harris, is not a conservative. He is a bleeding heart, self centered, bombast. If you seek an Asshole, look no further than David J. Harris.
Dave Hahn 4
Never heard of the guy. Guess my literature base is not as large as I thought
Dave Hahn 2
Did a bit of research ( a bit). It sure looks like he is conservative. For this post I am not for or against just stating what I read,
Two words for you : selfish prick , I wanted to say something else but with that I will be in “ FlightAware internet jail “
Ha! Exactly what I thought! Wasn't sure it I could use "prick" or not but I see it passes the test!
Tim Smith 11
You don’t need the airlines to tell what you what you already know! 150 thousand deaths and counting, and unless you have been under a rock for the last 6 months just do what needs to be done .

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Scientific evidence supporting the use of masks is widespread. Not so well known is the classic manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Perhaps you should read about it. "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." - Charles Darwin
Ashley Grant 23
You demand to see "the science," but then spend the rest of your comment showing your ignorance of how science actually works. This is a NEW VIRUS. Investigation of this virus is ongoing, and thus recommendations based on new findings may be different from old findings.

Also, it has been fairly openly reported that they had to make their recommendations not in a vacuum, but within the confines of the realities of PPE supply at the time. They knew that if they recommended everyone start wearing masks, the first thing people would do is go buy up every single N95 mask, leaving none for medical professionals. That ended up happening anyways, unfortunately. You had well-intentioned people basically wasting N95 masks that could have been used by medical professionals. My wife works in a long-term care facility, and she was issued a cloth mask in March as her employer could not procure any N95 masks at the time. It took until May before they were able to provide an N95 mask (1 per day) for her.

As far as "the science" you demand. Scientific research has determined that the primary way this virus travels is encased in water droplets expelled from our mouths and noses. These water droplets, while tiny, are plenty large enough to be stopped by even a simple cloth mask. While it is possible to transmit the virus via "airborne" transmission that doesn't involve water droplets, the research is showing that is primarily a concern in medical environments.

You can read the latest science here:


(We shall avoid the medical and political side of the discussion.)

If the airline required you to wear a hat, you wear a hat. (This was a thing BTW, Wardair 1960s)

Airplanes, like ships, are not a democracy. A passengers so-called "rights" never ever supersedes a captain's legal responsibility and liability. The airline has a rule, the captain (and crew) enforces that rule. This extends from wearing a seatbelt, to no-nuts and now requiring face-masks.
kz3l8z 5
This is what is great about this county! The constitution protects your right to show just how stupid you are.
sprint113 1
There is some nuance in statements on whether masks will protect an individual from catching the virus. Masks (surgical, cloth) do little to protect you as an individual from catching the virus. Masks will help prevent you from passing on the virus and so other people wearing masks will help protect you. Thus, for masks to be effective as a whole, you need a significant population wearing the masks for a mask policy to be effective.

Back in March, when the number of coronavirus cases was still low and officials were working on "individual" level strategies to contain the virus, like contact tracing and self quarantine if you exhibit symptoms. Even if the gov't hadn't said that masks were ineffective, I don't think any state or the federal government was about to enact a mask mandate, so the likely low adoption rate would have made them ineffective against the spread of the virus anyway.

It wasn't until late March/April that asymptomatic carriers were discovered and, along with a significant increased number of cases, more restrictive "community" level rules needed to be used. This meant state-wide lockdowns, and mass mask wearing. Now that we had statewide rules forcing everyone to wear masks, they have a chance of being effective.

Just also wanted to add, making shit up as you go is sort of how science works. You make a hypothesis, test and prove it to the best of your abilities. Then, down the road, you or someone else will do the same to refute, or refine your results.
Thank you, David Harris. AA has now changed their policy so that masks are required of all passengers - because of you. If someone has a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask, they simply don't fly. David - you ruined it for people that might have legitimate reasons for going maskless, for example someone that needs oxygen or someone that needs a cpap when they sleep. Good work, buddy!
Highflyer1950 11
It’s time the airlines started printing instructions on their ticket stock/boarding passes? “ the ticket holder understands and agrees that due to Covid 19 passengers are required to wear face protection at all times except for short durations when drinking/eating.” Gloves and the use of sanitizer is highly recommended.
Larry Toler 10
The problem with that is most people don't read.
If, at this point, folks don't understand 'No-Mask - No Service' -- how did they manage to get to the airport un-assisted?
Damn, these people are so needing validation....get OFF the plane if you do not want to follow the rules. The FAKE conditions these people are trying to push and the FAKE medical cards and letters need to be ignored. Either comply with the rule to wear a mask or STAY THE HELL HOME!
jordan keck 3
Wow! His brain must be working in reverse. He sure needs medical attention.
Bernie20910 3
Anyone know if the safety briefings have been changed to include instructions to take off masks before putting on O2 masks? Because you KNOW some people are going to try putting one over the other.
First, if this guy is a bestselling author I'll eat my damn hat. Second, since American Airlines doesn't have access to his health records, they couldn't violate his HIPAA rights even if they wanted to. Only a covered entity can do that.

Apparently three minutes of research is too much to ask. Selfish social media attention whore fail. Journalism (even the half assed internet kind) fail. Society fail.
Mark Kortum 2
I agree, The media portray his as some kind of conservative thought leader. He is not.
jose figueroa 7
Ban him from flying for life. If he can’t follow basic instructions he is a hazard. He knew the rules before he boarded the airplane.
Craig Allam 12
He likely had pre-planned it simply for the publicity-despite it making him out to be a selfish idiot...
Mike Williams 2
I wish all of those who will not wear masks the best but may probably suffer the consequences.
I live in the frying pan of the US and have been experiencing 110+ degrees of weather. I hate the constriction of breathing the freshish air and breath my 98.6 air. I wear medical type gloves whenever I get to maintain (shopping) my life. My hands do sweat also.
Here there is a requirement to wear masks with a $50 fine and whoever should enforce should be fired at the most.
Ross Selvidge 4
Make sure he doesn't get on any other commercial flights until he grows up.
I notice some of our members can’t resist the urge to share their political views and make childish insults. Please consider using some other platform to express these non aviation related opinion’s.
gilgraham 3
He has the right to not wear a mask.
The airline owners and operators have the right to refuse him service.
Perhaps they don't have the right to ask why, but nobody really cares why.
He now has the right to ride the bus to his destination and be known as an idiot for a long time.
garritt 1
110% correct
Jeraboam 1
In Canada he would not have the right to ride a bus without a mask. Hope he has a good bicycle or sturdy shoes for walking!
a1brainiac 3
The world is full of imbeciles
Mark Kortum 3
He is correct in that he has a right not to reveal his medical condition. The Airline has a right not to allow him onto their private property.
Chuck Lavazzi 2
Today's winner of the Entitled Schmuck Award. Check out the story on Mediaite. This guy is a Trumpie trying to pass himself off as a "pundit" and get some clicks on his Instagram account and play the victim (as these guys love to do). He's probably hoping to make a buck from it somewhere along the line.
Reading his biography, I conclude he fits an Obamie to a "T."
isababe M 1
One good thing about people being forced to wear a mask, it help with those sitting next in front or behind you with and unbearable and disgusting breath.
Pete Schecter 1
enjoy the bus!
So, as an airline, I post a "No mask, no fly" disclaimer so that no one can claim the didn't see it. They show up and want to board without a mask. I point to the disclaimer and say, "Have a nice trip back to wherever you just came from." As Ms. Savage has mentioned, they can ask. If you are not carrying valid documentation that you have received this variance, end of story. I don't believe that the "inability to wear a mask" qualifies as a disability as wearing one is the exception to the rule in a given day. We have just become paranoid that we will be politically "incorrect" and the world will shame us to death.
Ed Crist 1
Someone should have just slapped him in the face. Hard, Several times. Then a good kick in the walnuts. Hard. Several times.
Ed Crist 0
Forgot the conservative part. Another ignorant Trump chump. Watch out for the alien DNA, and those pesky sexual demon dreams. Spare us from these simple minded moronic conservatives.
"Many in both our political and media classes, however, have no desire for people to be well informed about relative risks. People who are afraid, after all, will engage in socially demanded behaviors. So why risk giving them an accurate picture of their situation? Politicians and the media are not informing the public so much as managing it, an impulse we must call out and fight.

We should also resist the ratcheting effect of a growing culture of safetyism, most excellently discussed in an UnHerd article by Matthew Crawford. He writes, “At the level of sentiment, there appears to be a feedback loop wherein the safer we become, the more intolerable any remaining risk appears. At the level of bureaucratic grasping, we can note that emergency powers are seldom relinquished once the emergency has passed.”"

Be an informed, free citizen, not a subject. Read the whole thing here:
This does not align very well with your earlier comment below...
jptq63 -3
Unfortunately, a point being missed is that there are currently conflicting rules / laws... i.e. if ATC tells you are both cleared and not cleared to land (or do some other action) in the air you are going to have problems. We are entering a situation where some people have VMC vs. IMC in the same airspace, and nobody knows which pilots are blindfolded... this needs to settled law or more worse events are more likely to happen.
Mike Murphy 0
You crazy liberals
Until we have a vaccine masks will be the rule. If someone doesn’t want to follow the rules, then they don’t get to play.
WhiteKnight77 2
Even then, there are those who would not get the vaccine for stupid reasons.
mark47950 0
There are individuals with a legitimate medical reason to be unable to tolerate a mask. They are mocked by shenanigans like this.
Rick Amerson -5
Suppose AA said you must wear red tennis shoes because we think they prevent the spread of foot disease. You say, "My doctor says I can't wear tennis shoes of any color. No, I can't show you why she says that."
AA says, "In that case you can't fly because we require red tennis shoes."

Do you have the right to demand they let you fly? Do they have the right to throw you off the plane?
SorenTwin 6
Sure you have the right to demand it. And they have the right to refuse it. Their plane, their rules.
AA is a private company , you pay them so you can use their services , so they can deny you , the “ no shirt, no shoes no services thing “ Why would they allow you as a person to do what you think is only ok for you while ignoring the others
Ed Crist 2
Yes, they do.
D Rotten -8
Now, THIS is VERY interesting!
Association Of American Physicians And Surgeons Sounds Off On Face Masks
The AAPS also says that HIV does not cause AIDS, that being gay reduces life expectancy, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there is a causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

lynx318 5
A true idiot!
Bernie20910 1
No, he really meant it.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]


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