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The Wagners - A Serious Injury Law Firm blog shares Personal Injury stories and opinions relevant to Halifax, Nova Scotia residents. Let us know what you think.

Precedent-Setting Result Achieved in Privacy Breach Class Action

by | Thursday, July 6, 2017

A privacy breach class action recently settled by Wagners is the first of its kind of settlement in Canada.

The class action, filed in 2012, alleged that an employee of a Nova Scotia hospital was vicariously liable for its employee’s intentional intrusion into the privacy of patients’ records.

A clerk at the hospital in question had allegedly accessed the records of several hundred patients without needing to do so to perform her job, in breach of the hospital’s privacy policies. The employee was subsequently terminated.

The claim was based on a relatively new tort of intrusion upon seclusion, a tort that has come to prominence in light of the increasing availability of private information in electronic format. The Ontario Court of Appeal is the highest court in Canada to date to articulate the elements of the tort.

Although the tort of intrusion upon seclusion has been considered in cases where the “snooper” was directly sued, and although other types of privacy breach class actions have settled, this is the first settlement of a claim that an employer is vicariously liable for the “snooper’s” actions. (Being an out-of-court settlement, no admission of liability was made by the defendant.)

Each living person whose records were inappropriately accessed received $1,000.

Given the heavy reliance of institutions like hospitals, banks, and retailers on electronic information about their patients and clients, it’s likely that future claims of vicarious liability for intentional privacy breaches will be brought against these institutions.

What remains to be seen is whether any of these claims will be litigated through to a conclusion, with a court determining whether, and in what circumstances, an employer will be held liable for the intentional privacy breaches carried out by a so-called “rogue” employee.

Unless and until a higher court pronounces on this issue, parties involved in these types of legal actions may look to the recent settlement obtained by
Wagners for guidance on a reasonable outcome of this type of action.

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Sam M
Sam M
16:11 19 Jan 18
Dyana was so kind to help me and respond to my query within 24h even though they do not pursue the specific class action I was looking for. She sent me few links by email. Thank you Dyana.
linda frausell
linda frausell
01:21 16 May 17
I have dealt with Wagner and Associates over the years and have received great advice,support and results . Their team is very respectful and show they care. You can trust them to take care of you and they always have your best interest in hand. I would definetly recommend them .
frank slaunwhite
frank slaunwhite
16:29 03 May 17
Ray Wagner and his legal team have been representing my niece and I for many years. They have been honest and quick to respond to all our needs in a professional manner. I highly recommend Wagners Law Firm and appreciate their caring approach. Thanks
Missy Day
Missy Day
12:03 06 Oct 16
I can't speak highly enough about the lawyers at Wagners who represented me for injuries from not one but two motor vehicle accidents. They were very professional and approachable. I was kept informed of all steps in the process and all of my inquiries were responded to and dealt with very quickly. The lawyers are knowledgeable and showed great empathy for what I was going through. I would recommend this firm to anyone!
Nicholas Gordon
Nicholas Gordon
11:30 06 Oct 16
I contacted Wagners about a motor vehicle accident. I was able to speak with someone right away. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. I received a response about pursuing a case the next day. I would highly recommend this firm.
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