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Lawyers for plaintiffs in Western Health privacy breach conduct discoveries

Court news.
Court news.

Lawyers representing the 1,043 people who had their medical records inappropriately accessed by a former Western Health employee will conduct discoveries with some managers at the health authority this week.

The people, part of a class-action lawsuit against the health authority, had their files accessed between June 2011 and May 2012. The breach was made public in August 2012.

It’s been over two years since Newfoundland Supreme Court Justice William Goodridge, case management judge on the lawsuit, ruled the plaintiffs had grounds to proceed to a class action.

The plaintiffs are represented by Bob Buckingham Law and Brothers and Associates Law Office.

On Monday, Bob Buckingham said while there’s not a lot to report on the case, it is proceeding.

“It’s not that we’re just sitting there at all,” he said by phone from his St. John’s office.

Buckingham said the lawyers for both sides are committed to moving the matter forward, but class actions can take some time to complete.

Buckingham said both sides have retained experts, who are working on reports, and there has been an exchange of documentation and material.

He added some discoveries with Western Health managers have already been completed.

Buckingham said the discoveries are a “fact-finding process.”

The closed interviews take place outside of the courtroom and allow the lawyers to ask questions on certain issues, as to what transpired and what may be important to the case.

Buckingham said the next step in the case will be the exchange of the expert reports and then discovery of the experts.

There has still been no indication from the plaintiffs what they are seeking in damages. Buckingham said that is still being explored and the people involved have been asked to summarize their issues and experiences and what they consider damages. This could vary from one to another and could see the plaintiffs being put into categories.

There has also been no discussion on whether or not the matter can be settled out of court.

Buckingham said it’s likely to be a while before the matter returns to court.


Aug. 1, 2012
Western Health goes public with the information that 1,043 people’s medical records had been inappropriately accessed between June 2011 and May 2012 and an employee had been fired.

Aug. 18, 2012
Barbara Hynes files a class-action lawsuit against Western Health in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook.

Aug. 24, 2012
A second class action is filed naming both Western Health and Donna Colbourne, the employee responsible for the privacy breach, as defendants. Valerie Dyke and Catherine Allen-Vater are listed as the representative plaintiffs.

Feb. 8, 2013
A case management meeting is held in Newfoundland Supreme Court in Corner Brook.

April 25, 2013
Donna Colbourne is charged under the Personal Health Information Act.

Sept. 12, 2013
Donna Colbourne is removed as a defendant in the class action, and the two lawsuits are combined into one.

Nov. 29, 2013
Donna Colbourne pleads not guilty and the matter is set for trial in provincial court.

Dec. 5, 2013
A certification hearing on the class action is postponed.

Feb. 6 and 7, 2014
The certification hearing on the class action is heard by Justice William Goodridge in Newfoundland Supreme Court in Corner Brook.

April 30, 2014
Donna Colbourne changes her plea to guilty and a sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 26.

Sept. 11, 2014
Donna Colbourne is fined $5,000.

Nov. 17, 2014
Justice William Goodridge rules the matter can proceed as a class-action lawsuit.

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