Class Ac(on Intrusions: Helping to develop privacy rights, or an overkill in liability? Presented by Omar HaRedeye AAS, BHA (Hons.), PGCert, J.D., L.L.M. (c), CNMT, RT(N)(AART)

Class Action Intrusions: Helping to develop privacy rights, or an overkill in liability?

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Class  Ac(on  Intrusions:  Helping  to  develop  privacy  rights,  or  an  overkill  in  liability?  

Presented  by  Omar  Ha-­‐Redeye  AAS,  BHA  (Hons.),  PGCert,  J.D.,  L.L.M.  (c),  CNMT,  RT(N)(AART)      

The  Commission  of  Inquiry  into  the  Confiden(ality  of  Health  Records  in  Ontario  

■  Published  in  1980,  following  an  inquiry  into  health  information  and  privacy  concerns.  

■  Led  to  the  creation  of  PHIPA    in  Ontario  in  2004.  

■  Intended  to  be  a  comprehensive  legislative  scheme  to  address  health  privacy.  


Mechanism  of  Enforcement  under  PHIPA  

■  Complaint  of  suspected  breach  made  to  Commissioner  (s.  56(1)).    

■  Investigation  into  complaint  by  the  Commissioner.  

■  Discretion  given  to  Commissioner  to  move  forward  with  the  complaint  (s.  56(4)).  

■  Compliance  with  Commissioner’s  investigation  is  compulsory.      

■  Recommendations  by  the  Commissioner  are  binding  (s.  60).    

An  Expecta(on  of  Privacy  -­‐  Purpose  of  PHIPA    “Individuals  are  very  concerned  about  how  their  personal  health  information  is  collected,  used  and  disclosed.  They  expect  their  healthcare  providers  to  protect  this  information  and  not  to  use  or  disclose  it,  intentionally  or  inadvertently,  for  purposes  not  related  to  their  care  and  treatment.”    ◼  Legislative  focus  is  on  creating  appropriate  balance  for  the  use  of  this  

information  for  health  services,  research,  or  other  social  value.  ◼  Less  emphasis  on  access  for  inappropriate  reasons,  including  curiosity  

and  personal  interest.    


■ The  PHIPA  has  been  touted    as  “a  gold  standard  for  protecting  privacy”.    

 ■ Yet,  has  numerous  deYiciencies:  ■ Inadequate  system  of  redress  for  victims  of  intrusion.  ■ Enormous  discretion  of  Commissioner,  and  judicial  remedies  only  on  adverse  Yinding.    ■ Redress  only  granted  if  “actual  harm”  proven.  ■ Damages  limited  to  $10,000.    


Jones  v.  Tsige,  2012  ONCA  32    An  Overview  

▪  Issue  on  appeal:  Whether  the  common  law  should  recognize  tort  for  invasion  of  privacy.    

 ▪  Court  reviewed  PIPEDA,  PHIPA,  FIPPA,  

MFIPPA,  and  the  Consumer  Reporting  Act  to  Yind:  ▪  Canadian  Statutory  laws  insufYicient.  ▪  Inadequate  damages  to  privacy  

breaches.  ▪  Focus  on  employer,  not  necessarily  

actions  of  wrongdoer  employee.  

Jones  v.  Tsige,  cont’d  

▪  Court  created  common  law  tort  for  invasion  of  privacy  →  Intrusion  upon  Seclusion.  

 ▪  Three-­‐part  test  established  in  order  to  succeed  in  making  a  claim.  

Tort  of  Intrusion  upon  Seclusion  

Three-­‐part  test:    1.  The  actions  of  the  Defendant  must  be  

intentional  or  reckless.  2.  The  Defendant  must  have,  without  prior  

authorization  or  justiYication,  to  invade  the  private  affairs  of  the  Plaintiff.  

3.  The  reasonable  person  would  perceive  the  invasion  as  egregious,  humiliating  and  causing  anguish.  

Tort  of  Intrusion  upon  Seclusion,            cont’d  

Application  to  broad  range  of  societal  interests:    

▪  Financial  or  health  records.  ▪  Sexual  practices  and  orientation.  ▪  Employment.  ▪  Diary  or  private  correspondence  that  could  be  reasonably  considered  highly  offensive.  

Tort  of  Intrusion  upon  Seclusion,    cont’d      

Damages:    ■  Not  required  to  demonstrate  actual  harm.  ■  Maximum  award  generally  limited  to  $20,000.  


General  Reac(ons  from  the  Bar  

Applica(on  of  Jones  v.  Tsige  

Case  Law    

▪  48  cases  have  looked  to  this  decision  ■  [Followed  (4),  distinguished  (2),  explained  (5),  mentioned  (26),  cited  (11)]  

Class  Ac(ons:  A  Review  

▪  Relatively  recent  in  Canada.    ▪  Prior:  Rule  75  of  Rules  of  Civil  Procedure,  

 RRO  1990,  Reg.  194.    ▪  DeYicient  mechanism  for  complex,  large-­‐scale  cases;  lack  of  judicial  oversight  

Class  Ac(ons  in  Common  Law  

▪  3  main  objectives  under  Ontario’s  Class  Proceedings  Act,  1992,  SO  1992,  

             c.  6:  ▪  To  improve  access  to  justice;  ▪  To  enable  more  efYicient  and  effective  judicial  

management  of  complex  cases  of  mass  injury;  and;  

▪  To  coerce  behavioural  modiYication  through  public  accountability.  

Class  Ac(ons,  cont’d  

Advantages  to  class  actions  as  identiYied  by  Justice  McLachlin  :    1.  Enhances  judicial  economy  by  preventing  

unnecessary  duplication  of  fact-­‐Yinding  and  legal  analysis.  

2.  Shared  expenses  allow  greater  access  to  justice.  3.  Ensures  justice  will  be  served  for  the  wrongful  act  


 Chief  Justice  McLachlin  (In  Hollick  v.  Toronto  (City),  2001  SCC  68,  [2001]  3  S.C.R.  158                at  para.  15)  

Helping  Hand  or  Iron  Fist?  

■  $20,000  per  case  is  insigniYicant  alone  as  a  head  of  damages,  and  not  sustainable  for  most  tort  actions  by  itself.    ■  But  class  proceedings  make  the  aggregation  of  these  damages  quite  signiYicant.    

■  Is  this  overkill?    Or  will  the  threat  of  liability  help  foster  better  privacy  controls?  


Class  Ac(ons,  Post-­‐Jones  v.  Tsige  

▪  Hopkins  v.  Kay,  2015  ONCA  112  

▪  Hynes  v.  Western  Regional  Integrated  Health  Authority,  2014  NLTD  137  (stage  1  only)  

▪  Subsequent  case  (still  uncertiYied)  with  14,450  patients  at  Rouge  Valley  Health  System  ▪  allegation  of  employees  selling  patient  

information  to  private  companies.  

Issues  in  Hopkins  v.  Kay    

■  Whether  the  PHIPA  creates  an  exhaustive  code,  and  if  so:    

■  Whether  the  respondent  is,  or  should  be,  prevented  from  bringing  a  common  law  claim  for  intrusion  upon  seclusion  in  the  Superior  Court.    

■  Whether  patients  whose  privacy  has  been  breached  can  sue  the  hospital  directly.  

         Hopkins  v.  Kay,  2015  ONCA  112    

Implica(ons  of  Hopkins  v.  Kay    

■  Illustrates  the  increased  potential  liability  and  risk  incurred  by  health  institutions  and  workers.  

■  Victims  no  longer  reliant  on  the  Commissioner  to  seek  a  civil  suit.  

■  Actual  damages  no  longer  have  to  be  proved,  the  intrusion  alone  is  sufYicient  for  the  case.      

■  The  tort  of  intrusion  upon  seclusion  does  not  apply  to  claims  otherwise  covered  by  PHIPA.  

         Hopkins  v.  Kay,  2015  ONCA  112    

Grant  v.  Winnipeg  Regional  Health  Authority  et  al.,  2015  MBCA  44    

Overview: ■  Charter violations and negligent disclosure of information. ■  Family sought damages after family member’s death. ■  On appeal, Justice Monnin: too early to dismiss the

possibility to make a claim as the result of a privacy breach of a family member.

Possible implications: ■  Potential privacy interest in genetic information (diseases,

traits). ■  May open door to a much larger plaintiff base than

observed in Hopkins.

Disciplinary  Ac(on  

 “Nurses  are  responsible  for  their  actions  and  the  consequences  of  those  actions.  They’re  also  accountable  for  conducting  themselves  in  ways  that  promote  respect  for  the  profession.”    

     -­‐Professional  Standards,  College  of  Nurses              of  Ontario  

Disciplinary  Ac(on,  cont’d  

■  Standard  punishment  for  misconduct  (3-­‐month  suspension  of  licence).  

 ■  Potential  of  actions  reoccuring.    ■  Does  not  order  disclosure  of  offence  when  seeking  new  employment.  


■  Can  the  alternatives  be  strengthened?    ■  Overhaul  of  failing  privacy  and  health  legislation  §  e-­‐PHIPA  (Bill  78)  

■  Reassess  disciplinary  measures  for    privacy  breaches  

Conclusions,  cont’d  

▪  Class  actions  can  allow  greater  to  justice  for  those  that  would  otherwise  be  unable  to  bring  claim.  ■  Review  of  policies,  education  and  training  by  health  facilities.  

▪  Use  tort  of  intrusion  upon  seclusion  in  class  actions  should  encourage  stronger  protection  of  personal  health  information  by  health  facilities.  

Thank  You  For  Listening!  

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