The Ottawa government is facing a class action lawsuit after a portable hard drive containing electronic data regarding 500,000 student loan borrowers was lost. Contained in the hard drive is sensitive information about the borrowers who took out student loans from 2000-2006, including names, social insurance numbers, birthdates, loan information and contact numbers. Plaintiffs whose information has been lost are understandably concerned about identity theft and other types of crime.
Plaintiff trial lawyers filed the suit against the Canadian federal government in Calgary, alleging negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. The lawsuit claims that “as a result of the privacy breach…class members must monitor their own credit and bank account activities for fraudulent behavior…[this] can be expected to continue indefinitely. Further, numerous class members have undergone expenses to monitor and protect their interests.” Plaintiffs additionally allege that the government violated the Canadian law requiring that the drive be encrypted.
Finally, plaintiff trial attorney Tony Merchant noted that the government was negligent in failing to timely inform the affected borrowers, stating that “the loss discovered in early November was only disclosed to the Canadian public in January.”
As with the U.S. legal system, the Canadian courts have the ability to certify a class. We will be tracking this lawsuit as it unfolds and will report if class is certified and as plaintiff electronic discovery commences.