Tort damages awarded for privacy breach in Ontario

On October 31st, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered general damages for breach of privacy under our new tort.

This is another love triangle case involving an improper access to personal information. The defendant worked at Legal Aid Ontario. The plaintiff was her boyfriend’s ex. The defendant accessed the plaintiff’s legal aid file without authorization, learned she had dealings with Children’s Aid and threatened to call Children’s Aid to have the plaintiff’s children taken from her. The plaintiff gave evidence that Children’s Aid investigated, but failed to prove this was because of the plaintiff’s disclosure. The plaintiff also unsuccessfully alleged that she lost a job because of the breach or – to be more precise – the anxiety caused by the breach.

Legal Aid Ontario settled and the defendant did not defend the action.

The Court dismissed all  special damages claims and said that the evidence showed “irritation rather than devastation.” On a $100,000 claim, it awarded a modest amount for general damages. The judgement unfortunately records the damages award at both $7,500 and $10,000. The Court also awarded $6,500 in partial indemnity costs.

McIntosh v Legal Aid Ontario, 2014 ONSC 6136.