$50-billion tobacco lawsuit to go ahead in Ontario, Court of Appeal unanimously refused to throw case out of court

$50-billion tobacco lawsuit to go ahead in Ontario by Canadian Press, May 30, 2013, Calgary Herald
Several big foreign tobacco companies lost a bid on Thursday to have a $50 billion lawsuit by the Ontario government thrown out of court. Ontario’s Court of Appeal refused their request. The three-judge panel unanimously said it sees no legal reason to overturn a lower court ruling that the case should proceed. Ontario launched a lawsuit against 14 tobacco companies in September 2009 to try to recoup past and present health-care costs related to smoking. The province claims the corporations should be on the hook for billions of dollars because they misrepresented the risks of smoking, did not take steps to reduce the effects and marketed cigarettes toward children and teens. The tobacco companies argued that Barbara Ann Conway of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice erred in concluding she had jurisdiction to hear the case. “We are not persuaded that any of the appellants have demonstrated such error,” the appeals court wrote in a 43-page ruling. The tobacco companies include four large multinationals, three of which include Canadian manufacturers. They are BAT Group (which includes Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd.); Rothmans Group (Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. and Rothmans Inc.); RJR Group (JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Macdonald Tobacco Inc.); and the Philip Morris Group.

They claim Ontario’s lawsuit is based on a false theory that the companies conspired in the 1950s to withhold information from Ontario smokers about the harmful and addictive ingredients in cigarettes. … The Ontario government says smoking is the leading cause of premature deaths and illness in the province and costs the health-care system $1.6 billion a year. Every province except Nova Scotia has filed similar lawsuits. Foreign parent companies tried to have themselves removed from the lawsuits in British Columbia and New Brunswick, but both courts turned them down and the Supreme Court of Canada denied the companies’ requests to appeal. In the United States, such lawsuits have resulted in huge out-of-court settlements of at least US$206 billion over 25 years. [Emphasis added]

Ontario wins important victory in $50-billion lawsuit against tobacco firms by Kirk Makin, May 30, 2013, The Globe and Mail
The Ontario government has won an important victory in a $50-billion lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers after the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to let international parent companies out of the court battle. The province is seeking damages dating back several decades in relation to medical treatment costs for lung cancer patients. “This is an important preliminary defeat for the tobacco industry for several reasons, including because the parent companies have a greater capacity to pay damages,” said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society. … In a preliminary courtroom skirmish, six of the defendant companies argued that the Ontario court does not have jurisdiction to make or enforce an order against them resulting from litigation. They also argued that the statement of claim issued against them is too vague. However, Ontario Court of Appeal justices David Doherty, Janet Simmons and Robert Blair disagreed. “In short, this is not a case where the statement of claim contains nothing more than a series of bald allegations devoid of any factual foundation,” they said on Thursday. The companies had argued that any connection between them and the alleged wrongs committed in Ontario is too tenuous and that the claim does not specify which of them is alleged to be responsible for particular acts. However, the appellate judges affirmed that there is a “good, arguable case” that the parent companies were involved in a conspiracy with one another as well as their Canadian subsidiaries to conceal the harm of smoking and to market their product as relatively harmless. “We are satisfied that the pleadings, in combination with the affidavit evidence filed by the parties, adequately establish a cause of action known to law with a sufficient connection to Ontario,” they added. Courts in British Columbia and New Brunswick have come to a similar conclusion in lawsuits launched against tobacco manufacturers there. Mr. Cunningham said all 10 provinces, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have adopted legislation that would facilitate the recovery of medicare costs through litigation against the tobacco industry. Nine provinces have filed lawsuits, he said, but none have yet gone to trial. “For decades, the foreign parent tobacco companies directed subsidiary companies in Canada and around the world to publicly deny the health effects of smoking, to oppose stronger package warnings and to engage in a massive cover-up with deadly consequences,” Mr. Cunningham said. He said the parent companies of tobacco giants such as Philip Morris and British American Tobacco are in a better position to pay the $50-billion in damages sought by the Ontario government than their Canadian subsidiaries. “It is essential that this case get to trial as soon as possible,” Mr. Cunningham said. “The tobacco industry cannot delay the inevitable forever. “This case is not merely about just compensation for health care costs. The case is also about health, and reforming industry behaviour so that what occurred in the past will not occur in the future. The lawsuit seeks compensation, justice, truth and health.” [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Ernst Letter to Alberta Premier Alison Redford, June 13, 2012: To Smoke or Not to Smoke and supporting documents

Alberta announces new cancer-care plan, but won’t stop hydraulic fracturing or disallow trade secrets of the toxic chemicals injected

Alberta premier accused of conflict in tobacco case, Ethics expert says Alison Redford should have removed herself from decision-making process

EnCana’s Gerard Protti will be Chair of Alberta’s AER, the new energy regulator that swallows up Alberta Environment, Alberta’s Water and the ERCB

Alberta’s Top Judge to Hear High Profile Fracking Case  Flaming tap water lawsuit by Jessica Ernst faced delay after previous judge promoted Ernst versus Encana – les juges jouent à la chaise musicale translations of Andrew Nikiforuk’s articles on the case by Amie du Richelieu

Fracking: Feds Throw Wrench in High Profile Lawsuit Judge suddenly promoted; plaintiff Ernst sees strategy to ‘delay and exhaust.’ Gaz de houille – le fédéral veut décourager Jessica Ernst

How Alberta Will Fight Fracking Folk Hero Jessica Ernst In famous flaming water case, regulator to argue ‘no duty of care’ to landowners or groundwater. Gaz de schiste – Jessica continue son procès ]

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