From:                              Rob Cunningham [rcunning@ottawa.cancer.ca]

Sent:                               July 27, 2009 10:30 AM

To:                                   Rob Cunningham

Subject:                          proposed class action filed in Manitoba against tobacco industry

 

See news item below.  The case discussed below is a proposed class action against the tobacco industry on behalf of individual smokers.  This is a different type of case than a medicare cost recovery lawsuit filed by a provincial government.

 

There are currently two certified class actions proceeding in Quebec.  In B.C., the Knight class action Imperial Tobacco based on "light" and "mild" cigarettes has been certified to proceed. 

 

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http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2009/06/16/9810741-sun.html

'Pegger takes on Big Tobacco

Misled public, claims lawsuit

Last Updated: 16th June 2009, 4:06am 

A Winnipeg woman is hoping to succeed where all other smokers have failed in the fight against Big Tobacco.

Deborah Kunka has filed a class-action suit alleging the industry has intentionally misled the public about the health effects of smoking and targets children to maintain their profits.

Kunka, says the lawsuit, began smoking in 1976 when she was 12 years old "after seeing various tobacco advertisements which portrayed smoking as 'glamorous' and 'prestigious' and which failed to adequately warn, or warn at all, about the harmful effects of smoking."

Kunka, says the lawsuit, continues to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day despite suffering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe asthma and reversible lung disease.

"Though she repeatedly tried, her addiction to nicotine precludes her from quitting," says the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which has yet to be certified, names as defendants 15 Canadian and international tobacco manufacturers and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturer's Council.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of "all individuals, including their estates" who purchased cigarettes manufactured by the defendants.

The defendants, says the lawsuit, "targeted children in their advertising, promotional and marketing activities in Manitoba with the object of inducing them to start or continue smoking" and undermined legislative and regulatory efforts to prevent children from smoking.

'NOT AN EASY CASE'

While some state governments have succeeded in forcing tobacco companies to reimburse them for health- care costs associated with smoking, "no smoker claim to my knowledge has ever been paid," said Kunka's lawyer Tony Merchant in a phone interview from his Regina office.

"It's not an easy case ... Big Tobacco has been very successful in avoiding liability over circumstances that everybody in the nation knows -- that nicotine and cigarette smoking causes a raft of problems for people and the companies over time have succeeded in not letting people in the marketplace really understand that."

So what makes Merchant think this lawsuit will be different?

"What's going on is wrong," he said. "My belief is the courts will see this mounting array of evidence of wrongdoing by companies, evidence that they were deliberately keeping information from the marketplace, setting forward with plans to deceive. It's a societal claim that ought to succeed."

Parties interested in adding their names to the lawsuit can contact Merchant at www.merchantlaw.com.