MLA Shannon Phillips’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms were violated by illegal searches of police databases by members of the Lethbridge Police Service, according to a $400,000 lawsuit.
The court action, filed this week in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench, says Phillips has suffered damages, including loss of reputation, as a result of the actions of at least three officers and one civilian employee.
The claim states that Phillips became aware that the officers had searched her name on December 6, 2020 when she received the results of a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request.
“Phillips has intentionally or negligently suffered legal, personal, psychological and emotional harm as a direct result of each of the violations of her privacy and unlawful access, collection and use of her private information by each or any of the defendants,” says the claim, filed by Calgary lawyer Michael Bates.
The lawsuit names three officers, a civilian employee and former Police Chief Robert Davis for allegedly failing to properly supervise staff.
Current chief Shahin Mehdizadeh is also named as a defendant as the current representative of the force.
The claim also names Jane and John Doe as potential other officers who violated Phillips’ privacy unknown to the plaintiff.
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The New Democrat MLA was environment minister at the time of the investigations, which took place between January 9 and November 29, 2018, according to the lawsuit.
It says the defendants searched police files from 2013, 2015 and 2016, where Phillips was a witness in the earliest file, or complainant in the latter two.
The three constables, Joel Odorski, Derek Riddel and Ross Bond, and civilian employee Allyson Dunsmore, “used the information for non-law enforcement purposes of which only one or more of the defendants knew, as all such actions were concealed from Phillips. “
“Phillips first learned of . . . (the) unlawful conduct after reviewing the results of a FOIP access request from LPS,” it said.
The lawsuit alleges all four violated the Penal Code, including a charge of “fraud or breach of trust by public officer.”
Along with the loss of reputation, Phillips experienced pain and suffering, violation of parliamentary privilege, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and an “inability to trust her private information is safe in the hands of law enforcement.”
The suit seeks general damages of $300,000, aggravated damages of $50,000, another $50,000 for breach of Phillips’ charter rights and unspecified punitive damages against each individual defendant.
Statements of defense contesting the unproven allegation in the statement of claim have not been filed.