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.

Just Posted

Rural dividend grants awarded in Kootenay West

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy made the grant announcements in Trail on Thursday

Castlegar Realtor honoured for achievements

Re/Max recognized Castlegar and Grand Forks realtor Lorene MacGregor

Castlegar gymnasts vault into competition

Selkirk Challengers Gymnastics Club attended the BC Artistic Compulsory Gymnastics Championships.

The economic state of Castlegar & District

A look at the themes discussed at the State of the Kootenays: An Economic Update

FireSmart work happening in upper Kinnaird on City of Castlegar land

FireSmart vegetation management work being done to reduce fire risk.

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Man airlifted to hospital after apparent hunting incident in East Kootenay

The man was in stable condition when he was flown out of Fairmont Hot Springs to a Calgary hospital

Police probe eight fires set at B.C. elementary school

Nanaimo RCMP say fires appear to have been set intentionally

Most Read