“If you a breach (a person’s privacy) you are going to pay for it,” said Raymond Wagner, a lawyer who represented the 681 eligible class members involved in the biggest privacy breach in Canada.
Halifax Supreme Court ruled on June 22 that Roseway Hospital has 40 days to pay the victims $1-million in total. Each client will receive a check for $1,000 with the remainder paying the legal fees.
In 2012, the South West Nova District Health Authority sent letters to 707 people explaining that their privacy was breached when it was discovered an admissions clerk, Cheryl Decker, had inappropriately accessed hundreds of patient files.
The authority began an investigation when they discovered Decker was sifting through medical records over several months without a valid reason.
The court approved the settlement marking it as the first in Canada to receive monetary value for a breach of privacy.
“This is a novel case in Nova Scotia and a novel case in Canada,” said Wagner. “It is the first intrusion upon seclusion case in Canada to have a resolution with monetary repercussions.”
He said the win will provide guidance to other courts for future cases.
“Information travels way too fast in small towns,” said Wagner.
He hopes that the risk of having to pay big bucks will prompt hospitals and other places that safeguard sensitive information to put stricter policies and preventative measures in place to stop that from happening again.
“It’s a big win for everybody,” said Wagner.