LifeLabs facing proposed class action over data breach affecting up to 15M clients

TORONTO — A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against medical services company LifeLabs over a data breach that allowed hackers to access the personal information of up to 15 million customers.

In an unproven statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Dec. 27, lawyers Peter Waldmann and Andrew Stein accuse LifeLabs of negligence, breach of contract and violating their customers’ confidence as well as privacy and consumer protection laws.

The statement of claim was filed on behalf of five named plaintiffs, including lead plaintiff Christopher Sparling, but seeks to represent all Canadians who used LifeLabs’ services, or else those who were told they were affected by the breach, if that information becomes available.

The plaintiffs allege LifeLabs “failed to implement adequate measures and controls to detect and respond swiftly to threats and risks to the Personal Information and health records of the class members,” in violation of the company’s own privacy policy.

In the court document, specific allegations include a failure to implement “any, or adequate, cyber-security measures,” neglecting to hire or train personnel responsible for network security management, storing personal information on unsecured network and servers, and failing to encrypt the data.

LifeLabs has said the data hack affected up to 15 million customers, almost all of them in Ontario and British Columbia. The compromised database included health card numbers, names, email addresses, logins, passwords and dates of birth, but it was unclear how many files were accessed. The lab results of 85,000 customers in Ontario were also obtained by the hackers, the company said.

The class action, which has yet to be certified, asks for more than $1.13 billion in compensation for LifeLabs’ clients, who they say experienced repercussions including damage to their credit reputation, wasted time, and mental anguish.

“The Plaintiffs and the Class Members are therefore obliged to take all reasonable steps necessary to protect their information including hours of wasted time and inconvenience involved in applying for identity theft protection services, changing passwords, notifying financial institutions and applying for new social insurance numbers from Service Canada, as well as the humiliation and mental distress of having lab tests results released without their consent,” the statement of claim read.

The plaintiffs are also seeking additional punitive and moral damages.

LifeLabs chief executive Charles Brown apologized earlier this month for the breach, which led the company to pay a ransom to retrieve the data.

The company also assured the public that its consultants have seen no evidence that data from LifeLabs has been trafficked by criminal groups that are known to buy and sell such data over the internet.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2019.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Leslie and Rod Stewart, of Red Deer, won $100,000 on the Aug. 4 LOTTO MAX draw. (Photo contributed)
Red Deer residents win $100,000

LOTTO MAX ticket purchased in Valleyview

The Bank of Canada building is seen in Ottawa, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. The Bank of Canada will release its updated outlook for the country’s pandemic-plagued economy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Bank of Canada set to release updated outlook for economy, inflation

More detailed analysis of forecast to be provided

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Sharon Hickin, general manager of the Days Inn Sylvan Lake and the new Lake House Diner, poses for a photo outside the new restaurant. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Pandemic puts extra hurdles in place for new Sylvan Lake businesses

Over the past seven months numerous new businesses have opened in Sylvan Lake, despite the pandemic

Email letters to editor@interior-news.com
The problem isn’t dispatching, it’s a shortage of ambulances

Having worked in EMS for more than 43 years, and having lobbied… Continue reading

file photo
Maskwacis RCMP investigate pedestrian fatality

Collision on Highway 2A causing fatality still under investigation.

March 14, 2019 - Head shot of Toronto Star columnist Heather Scoffield.    DAVE CHAN FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Opinion: Canada is missing a recovery plan

The glitches should have been a sign of what was to come.… Continue reading

A recent Lock it or Lose it campaign at Parkland Mall found only 35 per cent of drivers took action to make their vehicles less tempting to criminals. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Michael Dawe: Parkland Mall transformed region’s retail landscape

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 3, 1970, there was a major boost… Continue reading

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fitting finale: Dodgers win title, Turner tests positive

Turner returns to the diamond about an hour after the game

Most Read