A Sydney law firm is expected to launch one of Australia’s largest class actions in the new and expanding area of privacy breaches.
Centennial Lawyers will tomorrow file the lawsuit against the NSW Ambulance Service in the Supreme Court of NSW. The plaintiff alleges that a contractor was allowed to access personal workers compensation information of Ambulance Service employees. The contractor then sold the personal and medical details to solicitors.
The contractor Waqar Malik, who is the Second Defendant in the proceedings, has already been convicted of unlawful disclosure of personal information.
The workers compensation files contained highly sensitive medical and in some cases mental health information about on-duty NSW paramedics.
The statement of claim alleges breach of confidence, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, and misleading and deceptive conduct, all of which are causes of action used in Australia to protect privacy interests. This class action will greatly add to the development of privacy law in Australia, and particularly the use of class actions to respond to major data breaches.
The statement of claim also alleges that workplace injury management and back to work programs run by this State agency require extensive amounts of highly sensitive information relating to the health of employees to be held on file. This information should be strictly managed with appropriate safeguards being in place, however, it is alleged that in this case, this agency failed in its duties and obligations to do so.
The Principal Solicitor of Centennial Lawyers Prof George Newhouse said: “Workers are upset that the Ambulance Service did not take adequate steps to protect their information and that it is now attempting to minimise its role in the breach.”
Prof Newhouse added: “While there have been major successful class actions in the US and Canada against Yahoo and Ashley Maddison for mass data breaches, there have been very few in Australia. We are proud to launch a pioneering case in this area of law to establish the importance of protecting people’s data”.
Centennial Lawyers encourages former and current employees of NSW Ambulance Service who have made workers compensation claims to contact them. Queries will be treated in strict confidence and anonymity and can be submitted via their website or by emailing NSWAprivacyclassaction@justice.org.au.