Canola Suit Dropped, No Harm Discovered

Agroup of farmers has quietly dropped a class-action lawsuit against Ottawa and the Canadian Canola Growers Association over the loss of personal information in a computer stolen from the CCGA.

A lawyer representing the group says the suit has been discontinued because the theft didn’t actually harm anyone.

“We know of no one who has suffered damage as a result of this loss,” Tony Merchant of the Saskatchewan-based firm Merchant Law Group LLP representing the plaintiffs said in a letter dated April 7.

The case stems from the theft of a laptop computer from the CCGA May 30, 2008. The computer contained personal and financial information on thousands of canola growers in Western Canada.

The laptop had been taken off site for maintenance when the theft occurred.

CCGA immediately notified Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada but AAFC did not inform the affected farmers for two months.

Producers immediately worried about possible identity theft. They alleged CCGA and AAFC were negligent in allowing the theft to happen and waiting too long to inform producers.

Merchant called the defendants’ actions “deplorable and, we believe, negligent.” But he added: “The prospect of success is limited if no one has suffered any damage.”

However, he called on people who have suffered damage from misuse of their personal information to let him know.

Examples include false charges on credit cards or money stolen from bank accounts, he said.

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