Woman alleging Rogers exposed her affair says others have had privacy breached
‘Rogers is not responsible for the plaintiff’s affair or its consequences,’ company says in statement of defence
by: Pat Hewitt *Toronto — The Canadian Press Published on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 7:49PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010 8:15PM EDT
A woman suing Rogers over claims its billing practices ruined her marriage says her extramarital affair wasn’t the only one exposed by the communications giant.
Wearing a black wig and sunglasses, Gabriela Nagy told a news conference Wednesday that two people have signed affidavits claiming their dalliances were discovered because of how the carrier bills its clients.
A third has signed an affidavit saying a privacy breach led to allegations of marital infidelity which have shaken his common-law marriage.
“Their lives have taken a downfall, loss of jobs, marriages. Some are almost carbon copies of my story. Others have other privacy issues that were breached,” said Ms. Nagy.
“The privacy issue is a lot more serious. It concerns not only me.”
Approximately one dozen people in all have contacted Ms. Nagy’s lawyers alleging various breaches of privacy by Rogers, she said.
Ms. Nagy is suing Rogers for $600,000 for invasion of privacy, breach of confidence, breach of contract and negligence.
She alleges Rogers was wrong to bundle her cellphone bill with her husband’s Internet and home phone services that he ordered in June 2007. The new invoice, addressed and mailed to her husband, contained details of her outgoing cellular calls, according to a statement of claim filed last year.
Ms. Nagy’s husband used the information to determine she was having an affair. He left her and their children in August 2007.
“I am not excusing my actions. I am extremely remorseful,” Ms. Nagy said.
“I can’t explain the damage that I have caused not only to my family, to my friends, to my children. It’s something that I’ll never be able to outlive, never forget and forgive within myself.”
But she said if it weren’t for her indiscretion, she wouldn’t have become aware of the privacy issues at stake.
“All citizens have the right to their privacy,” she said. “If we have no privacy, we are nothing.”
Distressed by the turn of events in 2007, Ms. Nagy was fired that October from her job leasing residential units in Toronto, which had earned her almost $100,000 that year, the suit said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
In its statement of defence, Rogers denies it breached Ms. Nagy’s privacy and says there are no legal grounds for her claims.
“Rogers is not responsible for the plaintiff’s affair or its consequences,” the statement of defence reads.
“Our customers’ privacy is very important to us. We take it very seriously,” said Rogers spokeswoman Odette Coleman in an e-mail Wednesday evening. “We are not aware of any other complaints of this nature.”
Ms. Coleman said Ms. Nagy and her husband wished to have all services consolidated onto a single bill when the couple called to add additional services to their account.
“We did not terminate Ms. Nagy’s contract or automatically consolidate these accounts. While we sympathize with Ms. Nagy’s situation, we cannot be responsible for the personal decisions made by our customers,” she said.
Four people have signed affidavits, said Ms. Nagy. Three of them allege in interviews that their relationships were ruined or remain on rocky ground because of actions by Rogers. All three say they would be willing to join a class-action suit if there is one.
The three claim Rogers employees do not regularly check whether there is a password on an account before giving out billing information over the telephone.
One of them, identified only as Mr. X, said he separated from his wife from March of 2009 but Rogers still refuses to take his wife’s name off his account. He doesn’t want to change cellphone companies because his phone and e-mails are connected to his business.
In the process of a divorce and working his way through Family Court, Mr. X said in an interview that his soon-to-be ex-wife has used information gleaned from his cellphone bills to harass his girlfriend and in court to suggest he’s a bad dad.
Mr. K said his affair was discovered by his wife in 2004 when an impersonator phoned Rogers and had his invoices, which had been mailed to his business address, rerouted to his matrimonial home. His wife asked him to leave.
The third man, identified as Mr. D., is a former Rogers Wireless employee who said he left the company in 2009. Mr. D alleges a Rogers Wireless employee phoned his common-law wife in April of this year and told her he had been having an affair for a year and a half.
He said he had been told the employee has been fired but his relationship remains rocky.
Ms. Nagy’s legal team have created a Facebook group called Chirpp – Citizens Helping Individuals Reform Privacy Policies – to encourage others to share their stories of alleged privacy violations by any companies.
The Toronto woman also said Ontario’s privacy laws lack the “teeth” of those in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. She wants the province to amend legislation to strengthen those protections.
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