Court extends order suspending legal proceedings against big tobacco companies

JTI-Macdonald Corp., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. were granted protection from their creditors

An Ontario court has extended an order that suspended legal proceedings against three big tobacco companies.

JTI-Macdonald Corp., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. were granted protection from their creditors last month after they lost an appeal in a multibillion-dollar case in Quebec.

On March 1, Quebec’s highest court upheld a landmark judgment that ordered the companies to pay more than $15 billion to smokers who were part of two class-action lawsuits.

The companies quickly secured creditor protection in Ontario, putting all legal proceedings on hold so that a global settlement could be negotiated with all those who have claims against them, including the class-action members and several provincial governments.

The stay was set to expire at midnight Friday but Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen agreed to push the deadline to June 28.

However, McEwen has yet to rule on a motion that could lift the stay and send the matter back to the Quebec court of appeal. That decision is expected the week of April 15.

Lawyers representing the class-action members argued earlier this week that the stay in their case should be revoked if the companies intend to appeal the Quebec ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Appealing would mean the companies do not recognize their debt to the class-action members, which means they would not be negotiating a settlement in good faith, the lawyers argued Thursday.

What’s more, the possibility of an appeal that would further prolong the case could be used as leverage in negotiations, they said.

The lawyers said if the companies intend to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, they should instead ask the Quebec appeal court to suspend the implementation of its judgment until the appeal process is over.

The companies have said they had no choice but to seek protection from their creditors, and said the Ontario court was the appropriate venue to deal with the issue.

Lawyers representing several provinces — including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — have opposed the class-action members’ application, saying it would give preferential treatment to claimants in one province over the others.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School busses once again running in Sylvan Lake

School busses did not run for three days this week due to the extreme cold temperatures

Sylvan Lake RCMP seek assistance in locating missing male

Mark Crier, 17, was last seen in Sylvan Lake on Jan. 13

Advance care planning helps you document your healthcare wishes

It’s important that your loved ones and your healthcare team understand your wishes for healthcare

Central Alberta farm home to Himalayan-natives

Shane Juuti at West Gimlet Farms grew from having two yaks to over 450 since 1996

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Oil and gas industry applauds top court’s dismissal of B.C.’s Trans Mountain case

The high court’s ruling Thursday removes one of the remaining obstacles for the project

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

Alberta says universities over-budget; need to freeze travel, hiring, hosting

Demetrios Nicolaides says spending is not meeting expectations

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Iran must compensate crash victims’ families, Canada-led group agrees

‘We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand,’ says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

Beer-league hockey player awarded $700,000 for body check that caused head injury

Ontario court rules in a March 2012 incident in which a 36-year-old hit his head on the ice

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Most Read