ICBC liable for customer privacy breach that ended in targeted attacks, court rules

ICBC claims adjuster sold private information to member of criminal gang

ICBC is liable for the actions of one of its former employees who sold customer information to a criminal gang, the B.C. Supreme Court decided Wednesday (Aug. 24).

The ruling means at least 79 ICBC customers and those living with them could be entitled to compensation from the insurance corporation.

The class-action lawsuit was launched after a police investigation in August 2011 discovered an ICBC claims adjuster had sold customer information to the member of a gang for about $25 apiece. Thirteen customers subsequently had their homes and vehicles targeted in shooting and arson attacks between April 2011 and January 2012.

All 13 had parked their vehicles at or near the Justice Institute of B.C., which trains students for jobs in policing, emergency management, firefighting and security, among others. One of the individuals found guilty of carrying out the attacks, Vincent Eric Gia-Hwa Cheung, said he had a drug-induced paranoid belief that he was being targeted and controlled by the Justice Institute.

The employee, Candy Elaine Rheaume, pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining a computer service and received a suspended sentence and nine months’ probation.

READ ALSO: Families of victims in ICBC privacy breach can now join class action lawsuit

The class-action lawsuit, however, is seeking financial compensation from her employer.

In his Wednesday ruling, Justice Nathan Smith determined ICBC is vicariously liable, meaning it is responsible for Rheaume’s wrongful conduct despite not engaging in wrongful conduct itself. Smith found ICBC created the risk of wrongdoing, by giving Rheaume full access to its various information data systems.

“ICBC had in place rules and policies forbidding improper use of its databases, but the possibility of an individual employee choosing to ignore them was clearly foreseeable and there is no evidence of any system or method that would have prevented or detected that conduct at the time it happened,” Smith wrote.

ICBC will be responsible for covering any damages awarded to class-action members, as well as any property damage and physical or psychological injuries sustained as a result of the breach. Exact amounts are yet to be determined by the court.


@janeskrypnek
jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca

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