The Personal Insurance has settled the class action commenced against it as a result of its use of credit scores in investigating accident benefit claims, by paying $2,250,000.00.

The decision approving the settlement is interesting for its discussion of whether a class action can be commenced in the Federal Court following the release of a decision from the Federal Privacy Commissioner. Defence counsel took the position that only the representative plaintiff (who had obtained a decision from the Federal Privacy Commissioner) had standing to bring a federal action, and that no other class member (who did not also have a decision from the Federal Privacy Commissioner) had standing. Therefore, counsel argued, a class action could not be brought in federal Court.

Plaintiff's counsel, instead of contesting jurisdiction, commenced a class action at the provincial level in Ontario, which was the action that was settled. Query whether defence counsel's tactics aided Personal Insurance, or merely set a new precedent whereby plaintiff counsel no longer need to sue in federal court in order to rely on a breach of PIPEDA as the basis for a privacy class action.

In addition, this is yet another privacy class action that has settled for a relatively small "per claimant" amount, of approximately $150.00-$175.00 per class claimant (depending on the take-up rate).

Plaintiff counsel's fee from the $2,250,000.00 was $500,000.00, at an estimated multiplier from time incurred of 1.16, which is quite a modest return, in the scope of class actions.

See: Haikola v. The Personal Insurance Company, 2019 ONSC 5982 (CanLII

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