ICBC is a Crown Corporation with a monopoly for automobile insurance in British Columbia. It also manages driver’s licencing for the Province. Therefore, every resident of British Columbia with a driver’s license or automobile insurance is required to provide personal information to ICBC. Literally hundreds of ICBC employees and agents have access to ICBC’s databank of personal information. ICBC is under a duty to protect the privacy of its customers. There have been numerous incidents of ICBC employees accessing individuals’ personal information for improper purposes.
Beginning in 2010, 78 individuals had their personal information accessed by an ICBC employee unlawfully and without authorization. Many of those individuals had a connection to the Justice Institute of British Columbia and have been the targets of shootings, arson and other property damage. A class action has been filed by Collette Parsons Harris* Lawyers to obtain compensation for all individuals who had their personal information accessed by this ICBC employee, including compensation for the breaches of privacy under provincial privacy legislation, restitution of property damage and punitive damages.
A class action is a law suit that allows one person, called a representative plaintiff, to start an action on behalf of himself/herself as well as all others who fit into the defined class, subject to the rights of class members to withdraw or opt-out. This means that a single person can commence a class proceeding on behalf of everyone who has suffered a similar harm. Class proceedings legislation allows greater access to justice by permitting groups of people who are similarly affected to join together in commencing legal action.
If you have had your personal information accessed as a result of this privacy breach, either ICBC or the RCMP have likely already contacted you and informed you that your private information was accessed for an improper and unauthorized purpose. We will be applying for certification of this class action and once the court certifies it as a class action you will automatically be included unless you opt out. If you opt out you may pursue your own individual law suit against ICBC at your own cost.
ICBC Privacy Breach Class Action Update November 17, 2015:
The British Columbia Court of Appeal rendered reasons for judgment upholding the British Columbia Supreme Court’s decision that the plaintiff’s claim that ICBC is vicariously liable for breaches of thePrivacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 373 by its employees can proceed. However, it also upheld the Supreme Court’s ruling that public bodies including ICBC cannot be sued for damages for breaches of privacy that occur due to their negligence pursuant to s. 30 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 165. The court ruled that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is a comprehensive statutory framework for dealing with this issue and that a private law duty of care should not be recognized for public policy reasons.
ICBC Privacy Breach Class Action Update December 1, 2017:
The British Columbia Supreme Court rendered reasons for judgment certifying this action as a class action on December 1, 2017. Class Members will be entitled to the benefit of a successful judgment on the common issues. If the action is not successful on the common issues, no Class Member will be responsible for legal fees or costs. If this action is successful at the common issues trial, individual Class Members will be entitled to monetary compensation. At the compensation stage each individual’s losses will have to be determined. If you are a potential Class Member you can contact Collette Parsons Harris for further information about how this class action may affect your rights.
The class has been defined as the 78 individuals who have been identified by ICBC as having their personal information accessed for non-business purposes by ICBC employee, Candy Elaine Rheaume.
The court declined to include in the class the family members and others residents at the premises of the 78 individuals whose personal information was illegally accessed by Ms. Rheaume.
The class consists of the 78 individuals who have been identified by ICBC as having their personal information accessed for non-business purposes by Ms. Rheaume (the “Class Members”) and a sub-class of the 13 Class Members who have been identified by ICBC as having had their personal information accessed for non-business purposes by Ms. Rheaume and whose premises received property damage caused by the third party Attacks.
The certified common issues include whether the Class Members are entitled to compensation for the breach of their privacy, reimbursement of losses suffered and expenses incurred due to the breach of privacy and whether ICBC is liable to pay that compensation.
The court did not certify the question of whether ICBC is liable for any punitive damages arising from Ms. Rheaume’s actions.
ICBC must notify the Class Members within 60 days after the certification order (January 30, 2018). ICBC is aware of the names of all the individuals who had their license plate unlawfully searched by Ms. Rheaume and it will notify the potential Class Members by mailing the court approved Notice of Certification to each individual at their last known address by regular mail .
Persons who are resident in British Columbia on the date of certification and who wish to opt out of this class proceeding may do so by delivering the court approved opt out form to class counsel on or before 90 days from the date that the Class Members are notified. Class Members will be deemed to have been notified 5 days after the date of mailing of the Notice.
You can get updates on the progress of this action on this website.
A Sealing Order and Publication Ban was granted in this action on April 20, 2017 a copy of which is available on this website. Therefore there are limits on the material that can be disclosed publically. The important court documents which do not contain restricted material are reproduced below:
ICBC Privacy Breach Class Action Update March 7, 2018:
On December 28, 2017 we filed an appeal of Certification Order with respect to the court’s decision declining to include in the class the family members and others residents at the premises of the 78 individuals whose personal information was illegally accessed by Ms. Rheaume and declining to include the question of whether ICBC is liable for any punitive damages arising from Ms. Rheaume’s actions as a common issue.
On January 10, 2018 ICBC filed a Cross-Appeal seeking to overturn the court’s decision certifying the class action respecting the 78 individuals who have been identified by ICBC as having their personal information accessed for non-business purposes by Ms. Rheaume.
Counsel for both parties have agreed, with the court’s approval, to having the Certification Order held in abeyance pending further agreement between the parties on how to proceed or pursuant to an application to the Court of Appeal for a stay pending appeal.
In the meantime, it would be helpful for the action if all the potential class members who have not yet contacted Class Counsel would do so at this time to provide information relating to the harms and losses they have suffered, including losses and expenses covered through private insurance policies. All potential Class Member’s may contact Class Counsel in confidence at [email protected], or call Guy Collette or Richard Parsons at 604-662-7777.
ICBC Privacy Breach Class Action Update December 11, 2018:
On November 6, 2018 ICBC abandoned its Cross-Appeal of the Certification Order. Therefore, the case for the 78 individuals who have been identified by ICBC as having their personal information accessed for nonbusiness purposes by ICBC employee, Candy Elaine Rheaume, will proceed.
The plaintiff’s appeal of the court’s decision not to include in the class the family members and other residents at the premises of the 78 individuals whose license plates were illegally searched by Ms. Rheaume and declining to include the question of whether ICBC is liable for any punitive damages arising from Ms. Rheaume’s actions has been set to be heard on March 15, 2019 in Vancouver.
ICBC Privacy Breach Class Action Update May 28, 2019:
We were successful today the in the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The court allowed our appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision declining to include in the class the family members and other residents at the premises of the 78 individuals whose license plates were searched by Ms. Rheaume and declining to include the question of whether ICBC is liable for punitive damages arising from Ms. Rheaume’s actions. That means all of the family members and other residents of the homes Ms. Rheaume illegally searched are now included in the class action and may be entitled to financial compensation from ICBC including punitive damages. The next step to is to amend the Notice of Certification to include the expanded class and providing the notice to all class members. To date ICBC has not provided any of its documents and we will be pursuing full disclosure of its documents which will assist us in starting to assess the class members potential compensation. Additionally, we will seek to amend the certification order in accordance with the Appeal Court’s judgment by consent or by further application to the Supreme Court. The full reasons of the Court of Appeal are available on the link below.