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A US$3 million class action settlement approved by a Florida court stemming from the theft of data from a health insurer will not automatically be seen as a precedent by Canadian judges, says a privacy lawyer here.

However, David Fraser of Halifax adds that the ruling will likely be brought to the attention of a Canadian judge hearing a similar case to show that size of award is reasonable.

The award ends up giving those suing the insurer at most $30.

But as reported by ComputerWorld U.S., the decision this week is considered unique because the individuals didn’t suffer direct financial losses in the 2009 theft of laptops with their patient records.

Usually plaintiffs sue organizations and governments sue and demand damages for specific losses.

However, the Florida case also involved allegations of negligence and breach of contract.

With the agreed settlement, those claims weren’t judged.

But Fraser said that decision could still be informative to a Canadian judge. Settlements — closed-door agreements between plaintiff and defendant to avoid trial — have to be approved by a judge, who decides if the agreement is reasonable.

Fraser is involved in one of the handful of class action breach of privacy lawsuits before the courts here as co-counsel in an action against Health Canada involving people using medical marijuana. That case is still before the courts.

There has been one settlement in a Canadian class action privacy case, he added: A 2012 agreement involving the Durham Regional Health Authority in Ontario.

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