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CORNER BROOK — A certification hearing to determine if a class-action lawsuit that names Western Health as the sole defendant can proceed has been postponed until February.
The parties in the suit, launched following a breach of privacy involving the files of 1,043 people, appeared in Supreme Court in Corner Brook on Thursday morning.
At that time Justice William Goodridge indicated that the certification hearing would not go ahead at the request of lawyer Bob Buckingham.
Buckingham is lead counsel for the plaintiffs named in the class-action and appeared via video conference.
Goodridge said the postponement was asked for because of a delay in the filing of briefs required for the certification hearing.
The plaintiffs originally had until Oct. 18 to file the documents necessary for the hearing. The defendant then had until Nov. 8 to file its response.
However, Goodridge said a request for an extension to Oct. 25 had been granted for the plaintiffs. That then pushed the time for the defendant to file ahead to Nov. 15.
Buckingham told the court that he wasn’t expecting some of the things contained in the brief filed by Western Health’s lawyers and needed more time to respond to that before the certification hearing takes place.
Meanwhile, Western Health’s lawyer Daniel Boone, who also appeared via video, said he was in agreement with granting the delay, but countered that while the defendant’s brief was “comprehensive,” he did not think it contained “anything startling.
“I think we filed what would be expected.”
Boone said the brief would be the only one filed by Western Health. He later noted that it is his intention to file a Nova Scotia court of appeal decision that recently overturned the certification of a class-action lawsuit in that province.
Goodridge tended to agree with Buckingham on the need to file a response and said he didn’t anticipate some of the issues that were raised in the Western Health brief. He gave Buckingham until Jan. 15 to file his response.
Andrew May of Brothers and Burden Law Office was present in court for the Thursday’s proceedings. The Corner Brook law firm is acting as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the case.
After court May agreed with Boone that Western Health’s brief was comprehensive.
“It dealt with novel treatment of the provincial privacy legislation and it really requires us to respond to every point,” he said.
“It’s important to note that our statement of claim proceeds on a number of different legal grounds and each ground has been challenged by Western Health and therefore we need to reply.
May said what has been filled by Western Health so far only relates to the certification of the class-action, so that’s all the plaintiffs are addressing at this time.
“Western Health has not yet filed a defence, so we don’t really have too many reference points in terms of what their legal position is at this point.”
The certification hearing will now be held on Feb. 6 and 7 in Supreme Court in Corner Brook.