8 Ashley Madison users in US and Canada sue cheating website over data release

By Amanda Lee Myers


LOS ANGELES _ Eight people across the U.S. who registered to use Ashley Madison are suing the website for cheaters after hackers released personal and detailed information of millions of users, including financial data and sexual proclivities.

The lawsuits were filed between last month and Monday by Ashley Madison users in California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota. They all seek class-action status to represent the estimated 37 million registered users of Ashley Madison.

The lawsuits, which seek unspecified damages, claim negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations. They say Ashley Madison failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid a special fee to have their information deleted.

Last month, hackers infiltrated Ashley Madison’s website and downloaded private information. The details _ including names, emails, home addresses, financial data and message history _ were posted publicly online last week.

“Needless to say, this dumping of sensitive personal and financial information is bound to have catastrophic effects on the lives of the website’s users,” according to a lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of an anonymous Los Angeles man who created an account with Ashley Madison in March 2012.

“As a result of (Ashley Madison’s) unfair, unreasonable and inadequate data security, its users’ extremely personal and embarrassing information is now accessible to the public,” according to the lawsuit, filed by the Baltimore-based firm of Hammond Law.

Attorney Julian Hammond, who says his firm has litigated class-action lawsuits against companies like Google, Apple and Hulu, said the Ashley Madison breach is unprecedented in his experience.

The website’s users are worried not only about identity theft but about the embarrassment of the release of intimate sexual preferences. Even registering for the site without having an actual affair could put marriages in jeopardy.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” Hammond said Tuesday.

A spokesman for Avid Life Media, the Toronto-based company that owns Ashley Madison, referred to previously released statements by the company calling the hack malicious and an “act of criminality.”

Avid Life on Monday began offering a $500,000 Canadian (US $378,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of members of a group that hacked the site.

“We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world,” the company said in a statement last week.

The U.S. litigation follows a $578 million lawsuit filed in Canada last week, also seeking class-action status.

The hackers who took responsibility for Ashley Madison’s data breach have said they attacked the website in an effort to close it down as punishment for collecting a $19 fee without actually deleting users’ data.

On Monday, Canadian police said the hack has triggered extortion crimes and led to two unconfirmed reports of suicides.

The credit-card information of U.S. government workers _ some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and the Justice Department _ was revealed in the breach. Hundreds of email addresses in the data release appear to be connected to federal, provincial and municipal workers across Canada.


Calgary man faces charges in $20M fraud investigation

Colleen Schmidt, CTV News

A 42-year-old Calgary man is facing charges in connection to a multi-million dollar fraud investigation that alleged bilked $20M from investors over an eight year period.

The Calgary RCMP Serious & Organized Crime Unit launched an investigation into commercial real estate ventures operated by Platinum Equities Ltd., which is controlled by Srinivasan “Sharif” Chandran of Calgary.

Police arrested and charged Chandran on Monday and allege that he:

  • Used Platinum Equities Ltd. to raise millionsof dollars from Canadian investors through a variety of investment funds and that one of the funds, the Qualia Real Estate Investment V Limited Partnership (Qualia V), issued an Offering Memorandum to raise capital for the purchase of a commercial building known as Dominion Place in Calgary Alberta.
  • After purchasing the Dominion Place building in 2006 using funds belonging to the Qualia V limited partnership, he fraudulently sold the Dominion Place building in 2011 in a non-arm’s length transaction to another company he controlled and operated without the knowledge or consent of the limited partners.   Qualia V investors were instantly deprived of their asset on this date.
  • Committed theft of the secured equity of the Qualia V Limited Partnership when he sold the Dominion Place Building to a company he controlled and operated.
  • Provided false information to investors, diverted funds to other business ventures outside of the investment agreement and stole about $20M in investor’s funds, between September 28, 2005 and October 21st, 2013

Chandran is charged with fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000.

Vicarious Liability Of Vehicle Owner – What If The Vehicle Owner Provided Limitations On The Use Of The Vehicle?

Article by Sudevi Mukherjee-Gothi

The Court of Appeal in the August 10th, 2015 decision in Fernandes v. Araujo et al. addressed the vicarious liability of an owner of a vehicle for the negligence of a person who had possession of the vehicle with the owner’s consent. The Statutory Third Party Insurer for the owner of the ATV was denying third party coverage to the Defendant driver and was relying upon the 1952 decision in Newman and Newman v. Terdik, which held that:

The owner is not vicariously liable for damages sustained as a result of a highway accident when the person with possession of the vehicle violated the condition and drove the vehicle on a highway

However, the Court of Appeal

Affirmed a long line of authority going back to 1933 holding that as the vicarious liability of an owner rests on possession rather than operation of the vehicle, the owner will be vicariously liable if the owner consented to possession, even if the driver operated the vehicle in a way prohibited by the owner.

What is the basis for this finding?

1. The Highway Traffic Act

s. 192 (2) of the Highway Traffic Act provides:

192(2) The owner of a motor vehicle or street car is liable for loss or damage sustained by any person by reason of negligence in the operation of the motor vehicle or street car on a highway, unless the motor vehicle or street car was without the owner’s consent in the possession of some person other than the owner or the owner’s chauffeur.

This provision therefore places the onus on the owner of the vehicle to be careful in who is being provided responsibility for the operation of the vehicle.

2. Was the decision in Newman wrongly decided?

The Court of Appeal held that:

The proposition upon which Newman rests, namely, that “possession can change from rightful possession to wrongful possession, or from possession with consent to possession without consent” where the person in possession violates a condition imposed by the owner, is inconsistent with the reasoning of this line of authority.

The Court of Appeal cites many cases contrary to the findings in Newman. Although it grapples with its authority to overturn Newman, the Court of Appeal ultimately finds that

Overruling Newman would enhance rather than undermine the interest of clarity, coherence and predictability in the law. Accordingly, it is my view that we should overrule the case and declare that it no longer represents the law of Ontario.

What does this mean?

1. If possession is given, the owner will be liable even if there is a breach of a condition attached to that possession, including a condition that the person in possession will not operate the vehicle.

2. Breach of conditions placed by the owner on a person’s possession of the vehicle, including conditions as to who may operate the vehicle, do not alter the fact of possession.1

Therefore, be careful with regard to who borrows your vehicle.


1 Seegmiller v. Langer (2008), 301 DLR (4th) 454

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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