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Canadian Class Actions Monitor

Category Archives: Class Actions

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3rd Edition of E-Discovery in Canada now available

Posted in Class Actions

E-Discovery_in_Canada_Cover_JAN2017

 

Susan Wortzman, partner and Director of E-Discovery, and a team of experienced authors the third edition of E-Discovery in Canada. The book covers everything lawyers, in-house counsel and law clerks need to know about conducting e-Discovery, from preservation to proportionality to costs.

Learn from the professionals in Canada and find out how to leverage their know-how for better outcomes for your clients’ in this revised and updated edition. The third edition can be purchased here. … Continue Reading

The End of an Era: The Ontario Court of Appeal Confirms (Again) that the Securities Class Action Against Timminco is Out of Time

Posted in Class Actions

A secondary market class proceeding against Timminco Ltd. has been in legal purgatory since 2012, a victim of the changing jurisprudence governing the limitation period applicable to those claims. In a May 2017 decision (Timminco 2017),[1] the Ontario Court of Appeal decided that the case could not proceed because the plaintiff investor had not commenced his motion for leave to proceed under Ontario’s Securities Act in time.

Timminco 2017 represents the last gasp of the group of proposed class actions in which the courts of Ontario – and ultimately, the Supreme Court of Canada – worked out the governing interpretation of the interplay between Ontario’s Class Proceedings Act, 1992 and Securities Act.… Continue Reading

A Failed Gamble

Posted in Class Actions

The recent decision in Ifergan v. Loto-Quebec, 2017 QCCS 1332, presents a rare occasion where the Superior Court of Québec refused permission to institute a class action lawsuit.  The Court determined that even the low standard of “alleging facts that justify the conclusion sought” was not met in this case, and that an overzealous litigant was ill-suited to represent the proposed class, given his past behaviour before the courts.

The Allegations

The Applicant presented an Application for Authorization to Institute a Class Action, in which he claimed that the Respondent Loto-Quebec had misrepresented the likelihood of winning its Super 7 or the Lotto Max lotteries, due to a particular methodology for generating numbers for consumers opting for automated selection, known as “quick-pick”.… Continue Reading

Not Quite a No-Hitter: Ontario Superior Court Declines to Strike (Most) Claims Related to Pre-Installed Software

Posted in Class Actions

In the recent decision of Bennett v. Lenovo[1] (“Bennett”), in the Defendant Lenovo’s motion to strike the proposed class action in its entirety, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice declined to strike three of the four causes of action relating to manufacturer installed software loaded onto laptop computers. The Court’s decision demonstrates the difficulty that can arise in pleading motions as the law concerning privacy matters associated with consumer technology products continues to grow and change.

Background

The Plaintiff, a Newfoundland-based lawyer, purchased a Lenovo laptop from an online vendor. After receiving the laptop, he subsequently noticed the Virtual Discovery adware program that was pre-loaded onto the laptop.… Continue Reading

Quebec Superior Court Grants a Defendant Pre-Trial Discovery of Six Class Members

Posted in Class Actions

In Martel v. Kia Canada inc., 2017 QCCS 976, the Quebec Superior Court (Justice Chantal Tremblay) ruled on a motion by the defendant to examine class members. The motion was filed by Kia shortly after class counsel stated that they would call six previously unannounced witnesses at trial, all class members. The Court agreed that Kia should be able to examine all six class members on discovery before the case could be set down for trial and clarified the applicable test for pre-trial examinations of class members.

Background

A class action was authorized (certified) against Kia on June 12, 2015 by the Quebec Court of Appeal (reversing the Superior Court).… Continue Reading

Plaintiffs Lack Standing to Bring Representative Action to Claim Aboriginal Rights

Posted in Class Actions

The British Columbia Supreme Court recently refused to allow the Chief and Council of the Hwlitsum First Nation (“HFN”) to advance a representative action to claim Aboriginal title and rights on behalf of a historic rights-bearing community. In Hwlitsum First Nation v Canada (Attorney General), 2017 BCSC 475, Justice Abrioux held that the representative action could not proceed because the class or collective for whom the representative plaintiffs purported to act was not capable of clear and objective definition.

As we previously noted in the Canadian Class Actions Monitor’s commentary on Araya v Nevsun Resources Ltd, 2016 BCSC 1856, British Columbia does not have a common law class action.… Continue Reading

The Often Forgotten Tool: The Decertification Motion

Posted in Class Actions

It is tempting for lawyers to look at their cases as moving in a straight line, with each phase building towards the next. However, as class proceedings progress, new facts or circumstances may arise that undermine the issues for which the proceeding was certified for in the first place. In such circumstances, Defendant’s counsel should take a step back to analyze whether a motion for decertification is potentially appropriate.

Plaunt: An example of a recent decertification motion

This is exactly what happened in Plaunt v. Renfew Power Generation Inc.[1] In Plaunt, a class of approximately 450 individuals in Ontario who owned property surrounding Round Lake had their action certified against Renfrew Power Generation (“RPG”).… Continue Reading

Can a conventional action be “converted” into a class action in BC?

Posted in Class Actions

The answer is yes. On April 6, 2017, in a novel case, the British Columbia Supreme Court held that a conventional or individual action can be converted into a class proceeding by amending the claim to invoke the provisions of the British Columbia Class Proceedings Act.[1] Such orders are discretionary. While the issue is novel in B.C., amendments converting an action to a class proceeding had been permitted in Ontario[2] and Saskatchewan.[3] The case is significant for defendants in litigation who may think they are not at risk for being the target of a class proceeding if an individual claim (or claims) on the same issue has already been commenced.… Continue Reading

Class counsel fees in settlement agreements: the Quebec Superior Court refuses to rubber stamp

Posted in Class Actions

On January 23, 2017 Justice Claudine Roy of the Quebec Superior Court rendered an important decision whereby she refused to approve settlement agreements reached in parallel class actions against financial institutions on the basis that the fees claimed by class counsel, as part of the settlement agreements, were exaggerated. It provides a useful reminder that settlement agreements in class action contexts are not rubber stamped and Courts in Quebec will look carefully at the proportionality of class counsel fees before approving settlements.

This decision was rendered in the context of four parallel class actions, each instituted by Option Consommateurs, against a combination of all major financial institutions in Canada.… Continue Reading

Flooding Damage Class Action in Manitoba: The Court of Appeal Comments on Common Issues and Preferability in Anderson v Manitoba

Posted in Class Actions

In Anderson v Manitoba,[1] the Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned a decision that had denied class certification of a nuisance claim on the basis that some of the claims did not contain common issues and that a class proceeding was not the preferable procedure.  In so doing, the Court of Appeal provided guidance regarding the application of the common issues test in nuisance claims, and confirmed the importance of access to justice as a factor in certifying a class action.

Background

The representative plaintiffs in Anderson are members of four First Nations in Manitoba that were affected by flooding in 2011.… Continue Reading

Individual Issues Overwhelm Common Issues in a Nuisance Claim

Posted in Class Actions

In Baker v. Rendle, 2017 BCCA 72, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s decision denying class certification of a nuisance claim. The Court found that a class proceeding was not a preferable procedure because resolving the proposed common issues would not have significantly advanced the action. The Court’s analysis is specific to claims in nuisance, but suggests that nuisance claims are not suitable for certification unless the defendant’s conduct has a near-uniform impact on the class members.

The Rendles obtained a permit to operate a composting business on their farm and thereafter began to import and compost food waste from the surrounding area.… Continue Reading

Uncertain Implications for Global Class Certification: The Ontario Court of Appeal’s Decision in Excalibur Special Opportunities

Posted in Class Actions

In December 2016, the Ontario Court of Appeal had an opportunity to clarify the requirements for certifying a global class in Excalibur Special Opportunities LP v. Schwartz Levitsky Feldman LLP.[1] In a series of decisions over three levels of court, Ontario judges adopted shifting analyses of the global class issue, and a majority of the Court of Appeal appears to have further complicated the law on this issue by using language which suggests that it applied the conventional test for assumed jurisdiction over an individual action to the separate issue of whether to certify a global class. With a strong dissent, the law is ripe for further development in the future.… Continue Reading

A Most Dysfunctional Application

Posted in Class Actions

The recent decision Baratto v. Merck Canada Inc. presents a rare occasion where the Superior Court of Québec refuses permission to institute a class action lawsuit. The plaintiff, who suffered from depression and erectile dysfunction, claimed his problems were caused by medication produced by the defendant. Based on the Court’s analysis of the facts, the plaintiff could not properly advance the rights of the class he sought to represent, which the Court characterised as poorly defined. The Court also considered the plaintiff’s medical history, which was riddled with alternative possible causes of his problems, and determined that the plaintiff’s claims could not justify the conclusions sought.… Continue Reading

On Limitations: Alberta Court Reiterates Importance of Reasonable Diligence to Identify Defendants in Class Proceedings

Posted in Class Actions

In Condominium Corporation No 0610078 v Pointe of View Condominiums (Prestwick) Inc (“Condo Corp 0610078”), the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench (“ABQB”) considered the extent to which a party that suffered damage is required to identify the parties responsible for that damage for the purpose of triggering the commencement of the limitation period in the context of a certified class proceeding.[1]

Background

The representative plaintiffs in Condo Corp 0610078 brought an application to amend their claim to add certain defendants. The certified class action claims $2.7 million in damages for the cost of repairs and remediation resulting from a condominium’s construction deficiencies.… Continue Reading

Amending certification applications: When does the “procedural guillotine” fall?

Posted in Class Actions

In recent certification decisions, BC courts have demonstrated a willingness to permit plaintiffs to amend their materials and re-apply for certification, often with substantial guidance from the court on the scope of the amendments. In Winter v. British Columbia, the BC Supreme Court once again permitted such a re-drafting, though in this case imposing a strict time limit and indicating that this would be the plaintiff’s final opportunity to amend.[1]

Winter is a potential class action involving former employees of the British Columbia College of Teachers. In January 2012, the Province dissolved the College and replaced it with the Teacher Regulation Branch of the Ministry of Education.… Continue Reading

Successful Resistance of Certification in a Pharmaceutical Class Action

Posted in Class Actions

In recent years, many pharmaceutical class actions in Canada that have proceeded to a motion for certification have been certified. However, the recent case Batten v. Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.[1] [Batten] is another welcome example of a Canadian court denying certification of a proposed pharmaceutical class action.[2] The case involves the novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC), Pradaxa®.

Despite pleading many causes of action, the plaintiffs pursued only their “failure to warn” claim for certification. The allegation centred around the fact that, for the majority of the relevant time period, Pradaxa® (unlike the pre-existing commonly used anticoagulant, warfarin) did not have a specific antidote that could reverse its anticoagulant effect.… Continue Reading

The Role of Representative Plaintiffs from Other Jurisdictions: An Update

Posted in Class Actions

We previously reported in June 2016, on a Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decision holding that, in certain circumstances, a representative plaintiff in a multi-jurisdictional class action in a province other than Saskatchewan can (a) adduce evidence and make argument in a certification application in a Saskatchewan class proceeding and (b) apply for a stay of that Saskatchewan proceeding (Ammazzini v Anglo American PLC, 2016 SKQB 53). This decision was based on section 5.1 of The Class Actions Act, which provides generally that a representative plaintiff in a multi-jurisdictional class action commenced in a province elsewhere in Canada involving the same or similar subject-matter “may make submissions at the certification hearing” in the Saskatchewan class proceeding.… Continue Reading

The Québec Court of Appeal confirms the dismissal at the authorization stage of a shareholder class action against the directors and officers of a public company

Posted in Class Actions

In Groupe d’action d’investisseurs dans Biosyntech c. Tsang, 2016 QCCA 1923, the Québec Court of Appeal (Justices Schrager, Dutil and Parent) recently confirmed the decision of the Québec Superior Court to dismiss at the authorization stage a shareholder class action against the directors and officers of a public company.

Background

The Petitioner sought leave to institute a class action on behalf of the shareholders of BioSyntech, a medical device public company that filed for bankruptcy in 2010, against its eight directors and officers. BioSyntech was a biotech start-up and its success rested on its ability to access capital to develop and market a promising medical device, BST CarGel.… Continue Reading

Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Upholds Certification, Finds Attempted Appeal an Abuse of Process

Posted in Class Actions

Summary

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal recently confirmed that parties don’t get another “bite at the cherry” in Saskatchewan Medical Association v Anstead, 2016 SKCA 143. The Saskatchewan Medical Association’s (the “SMA”) application for leave to appeal on one decision was dismissed; however, the SMA then attempted to appeal a different but related decision using the same grounds of appeal. The Court of Appeal struck the second appeal as an abuse of process.… Continue Reading

Ghost in the Machine – Pure Economic Loss in the Time of Recalls

Posted in Class Actions

Plaintiffs are, in certain circumstances, able to recover pure economic loss caused by the negligent supply of dangerous products from the manufacturers of those products. [1] As long as the defect poses a “real and substantial danger” to persons or property, the plaintiff may recover for lost profits and for the costs of avoiding the danger posed by the defective products.

Generally, however, these product liability cases arise on the supply of the defective products. Is pure economic loss recoverable in the product liability context when a dangerous good is recalled and no longer supplied precisely because it has been identified as dangerous?… Continue Reading

Three Quebec Court of Appeal justices reiterate that a low threshold is to be applied at the authorization stage; one calls for the legislature to rethink the entire authorization process

Posted in Class Actions

In Charles v. Boiron Canada inc., 2016 QCCA 1716, the Quebec Court of Appeal (Justices Bich, Savard and Levesque) again overturned a refusal by the Quebec Superior Court to authorize a class action in a consumer law matter. In brief concurring reasons, Justice Bich wonders whether the authorization process still has any real utility and calls for help from the legislature, in light of recent Supreme Court of Canada precedents.

Background

The case involves a homeopathic product called “Oscillococcinum” (and a version for children called “Oscillo”) marketed as reducing cold symptoms. Although the product is made with 85% sucrose and 15% lactose, studies filed by the respondent manufacturer with Health Canada (which approved the sale of the product) support the positive effects of the product as marketed by the manufacturer.… Continue Reading

Walter v Western Hockey League: Admissibility of Survey Evidence and Pre-Certification Disclosure Requirements

Posted in Class Actions

A proposed class action in Alberta raises the issue of whether Western Hockey League (“WHL”) players are employees and should be paid a salary in accordance with employment standards legislation.[1]  Two decisions decided in that proposed class action consider interesting issues regarding the admissibility of certain interview evidence (the “Admissibility Decision”)[2] and the plaintiff’s entitlement to financial disclosure prior to certification (the “Financial Disclosure Decision”).[3]

Background

The proposed representative plaintiff, Lukas Walter, is a former WHL player for the Tri-City Americans. The WHL and its umbrella organization, the Canadian Hockey League (“CHL”) are both named as defendants in the proposed class action, as are the owners of the individual WHL and CHL teams.  … Continue Reading

Victory for a Healthcare Company in the First Pharmaceutical Product Liability Class Action Trial in Canada

Posted in Certification, Class Actions

On October 19, 2016, the Superior Court of Québec released the first ever decision of a Canadian Court ruling on the merits of a pharmaceutical product liability common issues trial. In this decision [2016 QCCS 5083], the Plaintiffs were alleging that the healthcare company was responsible for psychiatric reactions experienced by the class members while taking an antibiotic.

The healthcare company retained McCarthy Tétrault LLP after certification of the class action by the Superior Court of Québec.

Justice Suzanne Hardy-Lemieux dismissed the action, concluding that the Plaintiffs had not met their burden of demonstrating that the antibiotic was the cause of the psychiatric reactions suffered by the class members.… Continue Reading

Araya v. Nevsun Resources Ltd., 2016 BCSC 1856: British Columbia Supreme Court refuses to allow a “common law class action” alleging human rights violations at Eritrean mine

Posted in Class Actions

In an important decision for Canadian resource companies operating abroad, the British Columbia Supreme Court has permitted claims alleging human rights abuses at a mine in East Africa to proceed to trial. In its decision, the Court considered whether British Columbia’s representative proceeding rule could be used in the context of a “common law class action”. Ultimately, the Court held that the plaintiffs did not satisfy the criteria for the rule because they failed to establish that the unrepresented parties had the same interest . The Court also held that the plaintiffs were improperly attempting to circumvent the residency requirement of the Class Proceedings Act.… Continue Reading