In Holland v Saskatchewan (Ministry of Agriculture), 2017 SKQB 172, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed a class action brought by a group of deer and elk farmers against the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. The class action alleged damages caused by the Ministry’s negligent implementation of a Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring program. The Court of Queen’s Bench concluded that the Ministry had statutory immunity for their actions and granted summary dismissal of the class action. The history of the case leading up to the summary dismissal reveals a legal odyssey lasting 13 years and taking the parties all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and back.… Continue Reading
The Ontario Court of Appeal has recently released two related decisions: Trillium Motor World Ltd. v Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, 2017 ONCA 544 (“Cassels Decision”) and Trillium Motor World Ltd. v General Motors of Canada Limited, 2017 ONCA 545 (“GM Decision”).
Both are trial decisions relating to class actions arising from General Motors of Canada Limited’s (“GMCL”) 2009 restructuring plan. Though many legal issues are addressed in the two sets of reasons, the focus of this post is the Court’s consideration of the appropriateness of aggregate damages in class action suits in the Cassels Decision.
In 2009, as a result of the global financial crisis, GMCL required a financial bailout from the Canadian government.… Continue Reading
In a class action, diverging opinions between a class representative and his lawyer can lead to delicate situations, especially when the outcome of the proceeding is at stake. In the recent case of Lépine c. Société canadienne des postes, the Quebec Superior Court had to rule on an application to approve a settlement transaction filed by class counsel, supported by the defendant, but forcefully contested by the class representative.1. Background
Michel Lépine (“Lépine”) had bought some service from the Canada Post Corporation (“Canada Post”), consisting of free lifetime Internet access with the purchase of a CD-ROM. A month later, the free internet service was terminated.… Continue Reading
In a recent decision that could affect consumer class actions in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Douez v. Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) that a forum selection clause contained in Facebook’s Terms of Service was unenforceable when applied to a claim for breach of British Columbia’s privacy legislation. The precedent set by this case creates more uncertainty around how forum selection clauses will be applied by Canadian courts and could give plaintiffs new ammunition to avoid forum selection clauses in pursuing their claims. In allowing the appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada significantly modified the test for validity of forum selection clauses from Z.I.… Continue Reading
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently certified a case that, as reported by some media, could change Canadian hockey forever. Two representative plaintiffs, Sam Berg, a former Niagara IceDogs forward, and Danial Pachis, a former member of the Oshawa Generals, will be allowed to pursue a lawsuit against the OHL and its clubs alleging that junior hockey players do not get what they are entitled to under the law, namely, minimum wages for their services on the basis that they are employees. The case demonstrates the difficulties of pursuing a cross-border class action where some members of the class reside in Canada and others reside in the United States.… Continue Reading
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
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), 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
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 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
In the recent decision of Bennett v. Lenovo (“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.
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
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.
A class action was authorized (certified) against Kia on June 12, 2015 by the Quebec Court of Appeal (reversing the Superior Court).… Continue Reading
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.
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. 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
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. 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 and Saskatchewan. 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
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
In Anderson v Manitoba, 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.
The representative plaintiffs in Anderson are members of four First Nations in Manitoba that were affected by flooding in 2011.… Continue Reading
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
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. 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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. [Batten] is another welcome example of a Canadian court denying certification of a proposed pharmaceutical class action. 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
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
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.
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
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