ICBC car-burning, shooting privacy case one step closer to class action 

Former employee sold 78 people’s data to drug dealers for $25 each

click to enlarge PHOTOGRAPH BY ROB KRUYT
  • Photograph By ROB KRUYT

B.C.’s Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday a privacy class action suit against ICBC can proceed in a case where illegally obtained information was used to target victims with vandalism, arson and shootings between April 2011 and January 2012.

The initial suit resulted from a former ICBC employee, Candy Elaine Rheaume, selling the information of 78 customers who had been at or near the Justice Institute of British Columbia in New Westminster – very often members of police forces.

The personal information included names, addresses, driver’s licence numbers, vehicle descriptions and identification numbers, license plate numbers and claims histories.

Rheaume gave the information to an acquaintance involved in the drug trade, receiving $25 per name provided.

She pleaded guilty to a charge of fraudulently obtaining a computer service for illegally accessing customer information at work, the court said. She got nine months probation and 40 hours community service.

Representative plaintiff Ufuk Ari alleged he was told by ICBC in 2012 that on June 17, 2010, an ICBC employee viewed Ari's personal information "without an apparent business purpose.”

The information was used to target 13 people whose information had been handed over, the court said.

“The attackers thought they were targeting police officers, solely because the vehicles were parked at or near the Justice Institute,” the appeal court ruling said.

Rheaume is not named as a defendant in the case but Ari claims ICBC is vicariously liable for her wrongful acts.

He had sought to include other residents of the homes occupied by those whose information was taken. A lower court judge had not allowed that, ruling the other peoples’ privacy had not been breached.

That judge also refused to certify the issue of whether ICBC’s conduct justified an award of punitive damages against it, noting ICBC assisted the police with its investigation, performed its own internal investigations, terminated Rheaume’s employment, took various measures to ensure enhanced security and compensated the attack victims for all property damage related to their vehicles.

Appeal court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, writing a unanimous ruling for the three-judge panel, said the other resident of the homes could be added as class members and certified punitive damages against ICBC as a common issue.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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