Quebec class-action appeal starts

| November 22, 2016

The judge who ordered three Canadian tobacco companies to pay more than $15 billion in damages to Quebec smokers created his own law in the process, a lawyer for the companies has argued at the Quebec Court of Appeal, according to a story by Paul Cherry for the Montreal Gazette.

Simon Potter was the first lawyer to make arguments yesterday in what is scheduled to be a five-day hearing before the appellate court.

Potter argued that Superior Court Justice Brian Riordan’s decision in June 2015 contained “clear errors of law” and a “new standard of causation” that did not exist in Canadian law.

Riordan found Imperial Tobacco Canada, JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Rothmans, Benson Hedges Inc. liable for disease and addiction suffered by more than one million Quebecers during a nearly 50-year period.

Potter argued that this decision did not offer evidence that the people included in the class action were unaware of the risks involved with smoking before they developed health problems.

“Cause isn’t found through common sense,” Potter told the five judges who are hearing the appeal. “Cause is found through evidence. It’s difficult to parse out what standard of causation the judge did use. Our clients are stuck with a liability that is based on conjecture.”

Potter also criticized the methods Riordan used to determine how many people should be eligible to receive damages. “We’re in a situation where we have an enormous net and there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be in it,” Potter said.

Lawyers for the Conseil québécois sur le tabac et la santé, a plaintiff in the class action, will make their arguments later this week.

Category: Breaking News

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