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Canadian Class Actions Monitor

Superior Court of Quebec Warns Petitioners to Think Twice About Filing Copycat Class Actions

Posted in Class Actions
Pierre-Jerome BouchardAmanda Gravel

In Raleigh c. Maibec inc., 2016 QCCS 2533, Justice Soldevila refused to authorize a “copycat” class action on behalf of consumers who had purchased wood siding and shingles manufactured by Maibec inc. (“Maibec”), a Quebec company.

The Petitioners were Helen and Steven Raleigh, both American citizens, and Roger Hamel who resides in Quebec. The Petitioners alleged that the wood sidings manufactured by Maibec prematurely deteriorated, that Maibec misrepresented the durability and quality of its products, and that Maibec refused to honour its warranty. The Petitioners alleged breaches of the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”), and the Quebec Consumer Protection Act.

In her reasons, Justice Soldevila noted that the proposed class action was a “copycat” of another class action commenced in the United States in 2011, and that the Petitioners had put forth a very minimal effort to present their motion.

Justice Soldevila held that the proposed class action could not be authorized on multiple grounds, including the following:

  • The Petitioners did not present any facts that detailed why the product was deficient, what the common manufacturing defect was amongst all of the different products, or how long these defects had existed. Concerning the alleged misrepresentation about the warranty, the Court found that the Petitioners did not even choose the product that was to be used as siding for their houses.
  • The class composition was much too large as it was not limited territorially or temporally: it covered all of Canada as well as the United States, and included all of the products manufactured during the 70 years since Maibec has been in operation.
  • The Petitioners failed to present proof of similarities in the relevant legislation applicable in the multiple jurisdictions, such as legislation regarding civil liability, prescription and consumer protection. In other words, the Court held that the Petitioners were attempting to bite off more than they could chew in one class action.
  • The Petitioners were not suitable representatives for the class since the Raleighs replaced the alleged defective siding of their house with the exact same siding, and Mr. Hamel refused to implead his contractor due to personal reasons.

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Can Representative Plaintiffs from Other Jurisdictions Adduce Evidence in a Certification Application?

Posted in Class Actions
Theodore Stathakos

Class proceedings often concern issues that involve persons residing in a number of provinces. A representative plaintiff residing in one province may seek to certify a class proceeding on behalf of a class that includes persons that reside outside of the province.  Saskatchewan class proceedings legislation defines such a proceeding as a “multi-jurisdictional class action”.[1]  A class member residing in another jurisdiction may also seek to commence a class action in his or her jurisdiction on behalf of the same class with the result that multiple class actions in different jurisdictions relate to the claims of overlapping groups of persons.

In order to avoid this kind of duplicative litigation, The Class Actions Act requires the Court to determine if it would be preferable for the claims or common issues to be resolved in the other class action.[2]  In making this determination the Court must consider certain objectives of the legislation such as promoting judicial economy,[3] and all relevant factors including the stage that each of the actions has reached and the location of the representative plaintiffs and class members in the various actions.[4]  The Court may refuse to certify the Saskatchewan class action if the Court determines that it should proceed as a multi-jurisdictional class action in another jurisdiction.[5]

The Class Actions Act also provides that representative plaintiffs in multi-jurisdictional class actions elsewhere in Canada that involve the same or similar subject-matter as the Saskatchewan class action are entitled to notice of the Saskatchewan certification application.[6]  The representative plaintiff from the other jurisdiction is explicitly permitted to make submissions at the Saskatchewan certification application.[7]  However, The Class Actions Act does not expressly provide that the plaintiff in the other jurisdiction can file evidence or make applications.  The recent decision of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench in Ammazzini v Anglo American PLC, 2016 SKQB 53 (“Ammazzini”) has interpreted The Class Actions Act to also permit the representative plaintiff from the other jurisdiction to adduce evidence and to make an application for a conditional stay of the Saskatchewan class proceeding.  Continue Reading

The Potential Risk of Default Judgments in Quebec Class Actions: Frank-Fort Construction inc. v. Porsche Cars Canada Ltd.

Posted in Class Actions
Andrée-Anne LabbéMichel Gagné

In Frank-Fort Construction inc. v. Porsche Cars Canada Ltd., the Quebec Superior Court (Justice Donald Bisson) recently ruled on an Application to be relieved of default for failing to file an Answer to a Motion to Authorize the Bringing of a Class Action within the prescribed 15-day time limit. Filing of an Answer is the equivalent of filing an Appearance under the New Code of Civil Procedure (“new CCP”) in force in Québec since January 1, 2016.

The authorization motion was filed on November 10, 2015 and served on the last Respondent on November 17, 2015. Under the new CCP, the deadline to file an Answer is 15 days after being served with the motion. As none of the four Respondents had filed an Answer, on December 11, 2015, the Petitioner filed for Default Judgment. Although a Default Judgment filing is highly unusual in class actions proceedings, it remains available to the Petitioner.

The authorization motion was heard ex parte in February 2016 (Justice Pierre C. Gagnon). Continue Reading

Hot Off the Press – Canadian Contractual Interpretation Law 3rd Edition

Posted in Appeals, Class Actions

Canadian_Contractual_Interpretation_Law_BookGeoff Hall, senior litigator at McCarthy Tétrault, authors the newly published third edition of Canadian Contractual Interpretation Law. The book clearly sets out the principles governing the interpretation of contracts in Canada, particularly in light of the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sattva and Bhasin.

These two cases – both of which cited the second edition of Mr. Hall’s book, and were successfully argued by litigators from the firm – transformed contractual interpretation in fundamental ways, firstly by recognizing contractual interpretation as a highly fact-driven exercise and secondly by recognizing an organizing principle of good faith in Canadian contract law. The third edition can be purchased here.

This article was originally posted on the Canadian Appeals Monitor Blog on June 2, 2016.

Variation on a familiar theme – the scope of Plaintiff’s right to amendment in a class action

Posted in Appeals, Case Comments, Class Actions, Quebec Consumer Protection Act (CPA)
Louis Fouquet

In Martel v. Kia Canada inc. 2016 QCCS 2097, Justice Chantal Tremblay of the Superior Court ruled on a motion by Plaintiffs to amend their claim after the class action was authorized. After going over the general principles, Justice Tremblay dismissed certain amendments on the basis that they would result in an entirely novel claim.

This decision arises out of a class action instituted against Kia Canada Inc., manufacturer of Kia vehicles, on the basis that the dealers required more intense and frequent maintenance than that provided by the manufacturer in its owner manual, on which the class members allegedly relied to decide to purchase a Kia vehicle. Petitioner argued that the manufacturer’s representations in the owner manual were thus false and resulted in unforeseen maintenance costs. Importantly, Petitioner relied on arts. 219 and 228 of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for its claim against Kia Canada.

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“Order in the Court!”: Judicial Discretion in Scheduling Applications within Class Proceedings

Posted in Case Comments, Certification
Benjamin LaytonLyndsey Delamont

Much can hinge on the order in which applications are heard and decided. A defendant in a prospective class action may save considerable time and money if their motion for summary judgment is determined prior to a plaintiff’s application for certification.

This February, in Keatley Surveying v Teranet, the Ontario Superior Court confirmed that scheduling applications is a matter of judicial discretion in that there is no requirement that applications must be heard in the order they are received or that one type of application must always precede another.[1]

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Deux actions collectives contre des parcs éoliens récemment autorisées au Québec

Posted in Class Actions
Jeremie-Nicolas MoisanJean Lortie

Depuis le début de l’année 2016, deux demandes d’autorisation d’exercer des actions collectives ont été accueillies à l’encontre de parcs éoliens situés au Québec.

Le projet éolien Seigneurie de Beaupré[1]

En janvier dernier, la Cour d’appel a infirmé la décision de la Cour supérieure qui avait rejeté une requête pour autorisation d’exercer un recours collectif contre les Parcs éoliens de la Seigneurie de Beaupré 2 et 3 et Parcs éoliens de la Seigneurie de Beaupré 4 (ci-après « Parcs éoliens de la Seigneurie de Beaupré »), situés dans la région de Québec. Dans cette affaire, les requérants prétendent que les membres subissent, depuis mai 2011, des inconvénients anormaux causés par les activités reliées à la construction de ces parcs éoliens. En avril 2015, l’honorable Johanne April avait rejeté la requête, en retenant notamment que les inconvénients reprochés aux intimées n’étaient pas subis par l’ensemble des membres de l’action collective projetée. La Cour d’appel a, pour sa part, autorisé l’action collective, tout en reconnaissant certaines des lacunes quant à la preuve des requérants qui avaient été aussi soulevées par la juge de première instance. La Cour d’appel, estimant également que les inconvénients allégués n’apparaissaient pas être subis par l’ensemble des membres du groupe, a autorisé l’action collective, mais en prenant soin de circonscrire le groupe aux seuls membres habitant dans un secteur bien précis.

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Good to go: Court adopts flexible approach to reformulating classes on certification appeal

Posted in Appeals, Case Comments, Certification, Class Actions
Douglas JudsonJagtaran Singh

On April 6, 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal (the “OCA”) released its decision in Good v. Toronto (Police Services Board) (“Good“). The case concerns the certification of a proposed class in a proceeding arising from events surrounding the G20 Summit held in Toronto in June 2010. The proposed class consisted of individuals who were detained at various locations in the city as police attempted to control protests and demonstrations. The decision has important implications for the court’s treatment of proposed class actions that are reformulated in the appellate process, and demonstrates the court’s flexible approach to the certification criteria under s. 5(1) of the Class Proceedings Act, 1992 (the “CPA“).

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Undisclosed Fee Cases Continue to Attract Class Actions

Posted in Case Comments, Certification, Class Actions
Alexandra Cocks

Over the past few years financial institutions and companies in other perceived “deep pocket” industries, like telecommunications, have become targets for class actions in regard to fees charged that are alleged to have not been adequately disclosed. Many of these claims have been grounded in breach of contract and/or breach of consumer protection legislation. Most of these claims have been certified.

We previously reported on this emerging trend in 2014. See previous blog post here: Undisclosed Fees Continue to Attract Class Actions

The trend continues.

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Abuse of Process: Carbon Copy Class Actions Stayed by Courts Coast to Coast

Posted in Class Actions, Multijurisdictional
Kelli McAllister

Over the past year the Nova Scotia, Alberta, and Manitoba Courts of Appeal have each found the same action within their respective jurisdictions, brought by the same law firm on behalf of the same plaintiff class is an abuse of process.[1] Unlike in ordinary litigation, where it is prima facie vexatious and oppressive for a plaintiff to sue concurrently in two courts on the same matter, overlapping and parallel class actions commenced in different jurisdictions are not, necessarily, abusive or vexatious.[2] A real issue arises however, when class counsel bring the same action in multiple jurisdictions as part of an overall litigation strategy to toll limitation periods, retain carriage of the matter, or achieve procedural advantages based on jurisdiction. In this case, class counsel filed across the country for all of the above reasons and as a “form of insurance for the possibility of an unsuccessful result” in the province in which the action was pursued.[3] In these circumstances, three appellate courts held that the case was an abuse of process and should be unconditionally stayed.

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