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MEDICAL MARIHUANA PRIVACY GAFFE CLASS ACTION

UPDATE:  JUNE 23, 2017

We attended the Case Management Conference (“CMC”) with counsel at the Federal Court on June 19, 2017. At the CMC, a hearing date to settle the terms of the Certification Order and issuing Notice to potential class members, was set for September 8, 2017. Please check back in late September for a further update. 

UPDATE:  May 1, 2017

We have scheduled a Case Management Conference (“CMC”) with counsel and the Federal Court on June 19, 2017. At the CMC, we hope to settle the terms of the Certification Order and set dates for next steps, including issuing Notice to potential class members. Please check back in June for a further update. 

UPDATE:  DECEMBER 13, 2016

The Government of Canada appealed the July 27, 2015 certification order.  The appeal was heard by the Federal Court of Appeal on April 5, 2016.  By judgement delivered on June 24, 2016, the appeal was allowed in part but the July 27, 2015 certification order was upheld with respect to the causes of action in negligence and breach of confidence. Click here to view the decision. We are in the process of settling the terms of the certification order and the next steps are to issue notice of certification to class members and secure a trial date.

Be sure to check this website for updates as well at www.marijuanaclassaction.com/. If you have not already done so, anyone who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada should register on the registration system at https://www.terida.com/mmhc/login.seam.

UPDATE:  APRIL 6, 2016

The appeal hearing regarding certification was heard on April 5, 2016 and the court reserved its judgment.  We will now wait for the court's decision, which could take anywhere from a few months to over a year to receive. In the meantime, there is nothing further that can be done.  We will provide a further update following the release of the judgment.

UPDATE:  FEBRUARY 25, 2016

As noted below, the Government of Canada appealed the certification of this class action.  We have now received a hearing date and the appeal hearing has been set for April 5, 2016 in the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa.  Following the hearing, the Court will likely reserve judgment meaning we will not get a decision immediately.  It could take anywhere from a few months to over a year to receive this judgment.

Be sure to check this website for updates as well as www.marijuanaclassaction.com/. If you have not already done so, anyone who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada should register on the registration system at https://www.terida.com/mmhc/login.seam.

UPDATE AUGUST 28, 2015

If you were a member of the Marihuana Medical Access Program and received the November 2013 mailing, please register on our enhanced secure registration system, even if you have previously communicated with any of the lawyers or law firms listed at this site.  Providing the information requested does not make you a client of the lawyers or law firms operating this site.

Registration now will assist in prosecuting the class action and assessing what damages were suffered by the class as a whole. Please re-visit the site often for updates and to keep your registration up-to-date.

For questions relating to the registration system, call toll-free 1.866.241.9914.

UPDATE AUGUST 6, 2015 

The Government of Canada filed a notice of appeal of the July 27, 2015 certification order.

UPDATE AUGUST 4, 2015:

The decision of the Federal Court was released on July 27, 2015, which granted certification for this proposed class action.  Click here to view the decision.

The defendant has 30 days to appeal this decision. If they do appeal, this will delay the certification process. If the decision is not appealed, the next steps will be to issue notice of certification to class members and secure a trial date. For more information regarding the decision and next steps please review our latest press release here.

Be sure to check this website for updates as well as www.marijuanaclassaction.com/. If you have not already done so, anyone who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada should register on the registration system at https://www.terida.com/mmhc/login.seam.

UPDATE JUNE 15, 2015:

The Federal Court heard the certification motion on June 11 and 12, 2015.  We will now wait for the court’s decision, which could take anywhere from a few months to over a year.

We confirm that all updates regarding the class action will be posted at www.marijuanaclassaction.com/ or on this website.  Please visit either of these websites periodically to obtain updates as they are available.  We confirm that it can take years before this matter is concluded.

If you have not already done so, anyone who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada should register on the registration system at https://www.terida.com/mmhc/login.seam.

UPDATE:  March 24, 2015

The Federal Court has rescheduled the certifcation hearing for June 11 and 12, 2015.

UPDATE:  March 17, 2015

Please click here to view the latest press release.

On November 24, 2014, the Government of Canada filed a motion record for an order striking portions of the affidavit of David Robins, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, filed in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for certification.   On December 4, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a responding motion record.   In a decision released on February 24, 2015, the Court dismissed the Government of Canada’s motion.

The plaintiffs’ motion for certification was scheduled to be heard in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 5 and 6, 2015.  However, on March 10, 2015 the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada issued an order assigning Mr. Justice Michael L. Phelan to replace Mr. Justice Donald J. Rennie as Case Management Judge because Mr. Justice Rennie was appointed to the Federal Court of Appeal.   As a result, the motion for certification will be rescheduled to new dates in June or July 2015.  Further details on the date and location of the hearing will be posted as soon as they are available.

On March 3, 2015, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) released a report of findings in respect of its investigation into the November 19, 2013 mailing.  The OPC initiated a complaint against Health Canada on December 5, 2013 but it also received 339 complaints from individuals who cited concerns about the impact of Health Canada’s actions on their personal lives including concerns about losing their jobs, reputational damage and personal safety.   In the report, the OPC concluded that the complaints are well founded and that Health Canada violated the federal Privacy Act by referencing the Marihuana Medical Access Program in the return address on the envelope in combination with the name of the addressee.   Affected individuals who were not among the original complainants do not have to file additional complaints to the OPC, as the investigation is concluded.   Although the OPC decided that its report would only be shared with the 339 complainants, a copy of the report may be viewed here.   

While the conclusions of the OPC are important, the investigation did not address the issue of assessing and awarding compensation to those affected by the November 19, 2013 mailing.  The proposed class action seeks to fill this void by pursuing compensation to proposed class members for their losses. 

If you received the November 19, 2013 Health Canada mailing, we encourage you to register at www.marijuanaclassaction.com. While you will have a further opportunity to decide whether to be a part of this action if it is certified as a class action, providing contact information and advising us about how this privacy breach has affected you individually will help us bring the case forward. Those who have already registered on the secure website do not need to re-register, but may want to update their information if their circumstances have changed or if they have experienced additional harms as a result of the mailing.

UPDATE – November 3, 2014

The Plaintiffs’ motion to certify the matter as a class action was filed on October 24, 2014.  The motion seeks permission from the Federal Court for the matter to proceed as a class action and appoint certain representative plaintiffs.  The Federal Government is required to file its responding materials by December 23, 2014.  The Plaintiffs’ written argument will be required to be filed on March 20, 2015 and the Federal Government’s on April 19, 2015.  We anticipate the certification motion will be heard by the Federal Court in May 2015. Click here to review the Plaintiff’s Motion seeking Certification and the supporting Affidavit of D. Robins.

The Plaintiffs also filed an Amended Statement of Claim on October 24, 2014.  Click here to review a copy of the Amended Statement of Claim.

Finally, on July 24, 2014, the Honourable Mr. Justice Rennie of the Federal Court denied the Federal Government’s appeal of Madam Prothonotary Milczynski’s decision permitting the Plaintiffs to pursue the action using pseudonyms.  The Court concluded that, among other things, privacy is “an important personal interest, in which there is a public interest in preservation.  Privacy regarding use of medical marihuana is the central issue in the class proceedings.  Identification as a plaintiff necessarily results in identification of the plaintiff as both a user of medical marihuana and as suffering from a serious illness”. Click here to review the Mr. Justice Rennie’s Order and Reasons for Judgment.

UPDATE – May 6, 2014

The Federal Government brought a motion seeking to compel Jason Wilcox to provide answers to questions which were refused during his cross-examination on affidavit.  On May 5, 2014, the Federal Court refused the Federal Government’s motion since all the questions for which answers were sought related to Mr. Wilcox personally and such information was irrelevant to the overarching motion before the Court.

Click here to review the Order of Madam Prothonotary Milczynski.

UPDATE - February 26, 2014

Please click here to view the latest press release.

The law firms of Branch MacMaster LLP, McInnes Cooper, Sutts, Strosberg LLP, and Charney Lawyers have agreed to work together on the prosecution of a proposed class action against the Government of Canada on behalf of all persons who were sent a letter from Health Canada in an envelope that referred explicitly to the “Medical Marihuana Access Program”.  On December 11, 2013, the law firms filed an amended statement of claim in the Federal Court of Canada.  

Full details on the class action are posted on the website www.marijuanaclassaction.com

If the case is successful, participants in the Medical Marihuana Access Program who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada in an envelope that referenced the "Medical Marijuana Access Program" may be entitled to compensation for the breach of their privacy, damages for emotional distress/inconvenience, and/or compensation for out of pocket expenses. 

We have recently launched an enhanced secure registration system.  Anyone who received the November 2013 letter from Health Canada should register on the new registration system at www.marijuanaclassaction.com even if they have previously communicated with the law firms or completed an on-line form on the websites for any of the law firms listed above.  Registration on the system will assist counsel in prosecuting the class action and assessing what damages were suffered by the class as a whole.

Please revisit the marijuanaclassaction.com website often for updates and to keep your registration information up-to-date. 

If you have any questions please call 1-866-241-9914.

 

November 25, 2013 - A proposed national class action has been filed in the Federal Court of Canada against the Federal Government seeking damages from a privacy breach arising from Health Canada’s mass mailing of letters to approximately 40,000 individuals across Canada in envelopes that identified the recipients as participants in the Medical Marihuana Access Program.

 The national class action was commenced today by Jason Wilcox on behalf of all Canadians whose personal and health information was compromised.  Click here to view Statement of Claim

In July 2001, the Federal Government enacted the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. The Regulations, among other things, empower the Minister of Health to issue authorizations and licenses to individuals with certain symptoms associated with particular medical conditions, permitting those individuals to possess and, in some cases, produce marihuana for medical purposes.  The Minister of Health is responsible for administering the Regulations and does so through Canada Health’s Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP).

Prior to November 2013, all correspondence from Health Canada to holders of medical marijuana authorizations and licenses in relation to MMAP was conveyed by a private courier in envelopes that did not include the word “marihuana”.  However, in November 2013, the Federal Government conveyed letters to participants in the Medical Marijuana Access Program with “Marihuana Medical Access Program” stamped on the outside of the envelope. The letters were conveyed through Canada Post.

“This privacy breach is unlike most. It not only compromises the confidentiality of participants’ personal and health information, but it also compromises participants’ physical safety and security,” said Kate Saunders of Branch MacMaster LLP, the law firm representing the Plaintiff and the proposed class, “The Federal Government does not seem to be learning from its privacy mistakes, which include the recent Student Loan hard drive loss case, in which our firm is also involved.”

Anyone who received a letter from Canada Health this month with the “Marihuana Medical Access Program” on the outside of the envelope is encouraged to go to www.branchmacmaster.com for further information regarding this proposed class action.

If you would like to be included in our database of potential claimants, please contact our paralegal, Ulla Herlev, either by mail, email or fax at the following address:

Ulla Herlev
Branch MacMaster LLP
1410 - 777 Hornby Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1S4
Fax(604) 684-3429
Email: uherlev@branmac.com

Please note that submitting your name to our database of claimants at this stage of the proceedings does not create a solicitor-client relationship with Branch MacMaster. However, this allows us to know that you are interested in participating in this proposed class action, and to provide further information to you if the action is allowed to proceed as a class action.

Class Action Q & A:

Q: I received one of the letters from the Marihuana Medical Access Program.  What should I do now?

A: You should send an email to uherlev@branmac.com with your name, address, telephone number and email address.  We will add you to the registry of affected individuals and will keep you updated as the action develops.

Q:  I am not resident in BC.  Can I participate in the class action?

A:  Jason Wilcox commenced an action on November 25, 2013 seeking to bring the action on behalf of all individuals in Canada that have been affected by the Marihuana Medical Access Program mail outs.  Mr. Wilcox will seek an order from the court permitting him to pursue the action on behalf of all affected individuals, no matter where they live.  When and if that order is obtained, all individuals that fall within the class definition will automatically become part of the class action (unless they notify us that they would prefer not to be included).

Q: I noticed that there are other law firms who have commenced actions in other jurisdictions.  Should I also contact them?

A: Branch MacMaster LLP, MacInnes Cooper, Sutts, Strosberg LLP and Falconer Charney LLP have formed a consortium of laws firms to jointly pursue the action on behalf of all individuals affected.  You may contact any of the law firms with respect to the action and need only register with one. 

 Q: What is the status of the action now?

A: The next major step in the action will be to seek “certification” of the action as a class action.  We hope an application for certification will be made in early 2014.  If you register to receive updates regarding the action at uherlev@branmac.com, we will keep you apprised as it develops.

Due to overwhelming interest in the class action we are unable to respond to all voicemail messages and emails instantly.  If you would like to register to obtain updates regarding the status of the action, please send your name and contact information to uherlev@branmac.com.  If you have a particular question or concern, please email uherlev@branmac.com with the same and we will endeavor to respond to you as soon as possible.