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North Rhine-Westphalia: Hamm Regional Labour Court dismisses appeals by defendant and plaintiff

The Regional Labour Court of Hamm ('the Court') issued, on 14 December 2021, its decision in Case no. 17 Sa 1185/20, in which it had found an appeal lodged by a defendant to dismiss a plaintiff's claim for damages under Article 82 of the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) ('GDPR'), and a cross-appeal lodged by the plaintiff in relation to the sum of damages, unfounded, following the plaintiff's initial claim for damages against the defendant's unlawful processing of their personal data.

Background to the case

In particular, the case relates to the transfer of the plaintiff's personal data by the defendant, a hospital, to Alleingesellschafterin der A Kliniken GmbH ('AKG'), a company that manages hospital carrier companies and service companies ('AKG'), active in the health sector. More specifically, the Court noted that the plaintiff brought an initial action against the employer and AKG before the Bochum District Court and demanded the deletion of the transmitted data, as well as the payment of damages in accordance with Article 82(1) of the GDPR, which the Bochum District Court granted on 12 February 2020, by ordering AKG and the employer, jointly and severally, to pay damages in the amount of €8,000. Thereafter, the Court stated that a final judgement of the Higher Regional Court of Hamm, dated 31 August 2021, amended the claim for damages so that AKG alone was sentenced to pay €4,000.

Moreover, the Court noted that in a lawsuit received by the Herne Labour Court, on 24 May 2019, against the employer, the plaintiff additionally required the defendant to refrain from passing on their personal data to AKG and demanded the payment of compensation for the intangible damage caused. Here, the Court specified, that the Herne Labour Court, on 15 July 2020, upheld the lawsuit and sentenced the defendant to refrain from passing on the plaintiff's personal data and to pay damages in the amount of €2,000. In this regard, the Court stated that the subject of the current proceedings is the defendant's appeal to dismiss the Herne Labour Court's judgment and the claim as a whole, as well as the plaintiff's cross-appeal to partially amend the judgment of the Herne Labour Court, sentencing the defendant to a greater sum of damages, not less than €10,000. 

Findings of the court

Notably, the Court stated that it had found the defendant's appeal and the plaintiff's cross-appeal against the judgment of the Herne Labour Court unfounded. Regarding the defendant's appeal, the Court reasoned that the plaintiff has a right to request their personal data is not transmitted under Sections 823(2)(1) and 1004(1) of the German Civil Code of 2002, in conjunction with Articles 5(1)(a) and 6(1) of the GDPR. Furthermore, with regards to the plaintiff's cross-appeal in relation to the sum of damages, the Court rejected the €10,000 threshold stated by the plaintiff and considered €2,000 to be an appropriate compensation for the pain and suffering of the plaintiff taking into account and weighing up all the circumstances of the case.

Outcomes

Ultimately, the Court found both the appeal by the defendant employer and the cross-appeal by the plaintiff unfounded.

You can read the decision, only available in German, here

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