Smokers sue tobacco firms in class action (Globe and Mail, January
14, 1995, p. A1.
hearing finally begins:[ONT Edition]
Ho Anderson. Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont.:Jan 13, 2004. p. A15
Tobacco companies kept smokers in the dark
about how addictive and dangerous cigarettes really were by
destroying documents and refusing to place adequate risk warnings
on packages, lawyers said yesterday at a hearing to certify what
could become the biggest lawsuit in Canadian history.
The class action suit was initiated in 1995
on behalf of millions of Ontario smokers by four representative
plaintiffs David Caputo, Luna Roth, Lori Carwardine and Russell
Hyduk, who died in 2003. Each is suing for $1 million in damages,
and for the creation of nicotine rehabilitation centres.
The suit targets Imperial Tobacco Ltd.,
Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, and RJR-Macdonald Inc. Litigators from
Sommers & Roth have been pursuing the case at the law firm's
expense for eight years, with many delays - which the judge
described yesterday as "procedural rambling."Another delay almost
occurred yesterday when defence lawyers objected that the
plaintiffs had been late in amending legal arguments.
But Justice Warren Winkler proceeded as
planned, spending most of the day listening as lawyer Kirk Baert
cited precedent after precedent in his attempt to sway the judge
to rule the case a class action.
Several times, Winkler stopped Baert and
asked him to stick to the case at hand.
Ontario law does not require people to opt
in to class actions, only to opt out. If approved, the action
could result in millions of smokers filing claims against the
Credit: Toronto Star
Indexing (document details) Author(s): Ho
Anderson Section: News Publication title: Toronto Star. Toronto,
Ont.: Jan 13, 2004. pg. A.15 Source type: Newspaper ISSN: 03190781
ProQuest document ID: 523849441 Text Word Count 238
of evidence in lawsuit against tobacco companies, lawyers say
Brautigam, Tara. Canadian Press NewsWire. Toronto:Jan 13, 2004.
TORONTO (CP) - A class-action suit against
Canada's three main tobacco companies should not be allowed to
proceed because of a glaring lack of evidence, defence lawyers
Defence lawyer Deborah Glendinning said
lawyers for the four plaintiffs "glossed over" much of the
evidence in their statement of claim and opening remarks Monday
during the class-action certification hearing.
"(They) threw the spaghetti to see if it
would stick," Glendinning said.
"But they didn't file the evidence to
David Caputo, Luna Roth, Lori Cawardine and
Russell Hyduk launched the lawsuit nine years ago, but numerous
procedural delays have prevented it from going ahead. Hyduk died
last year but his estate trustee is continuing with the case.
The plaintiffs allege Rothmans, Benson &
Hedges, Imperial Tobacco Canada and JTI-Macdonald conspired to
hide the health risks of smoking and the addictive nature of
tobacco from the public in order to boost cigarette sales.
Up until 1972, the companies gave no
warnings to consumers about the likelihood of cigarettes causing
cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the plaintiffs say.
They are seeking $1-million each in
damages, as well as funding for nicotine addiction rehabilitation
If approved, observers say the
multimillion-dollar class action could become the largest in
Canadian history. Every past and present smoker in Ontario would
be eligible to participate.
Kirk Baert, a lawyer for the plaintiffs,
told Justice Warren Winkler the case was similar to more than 40
class actions involving millions of smokers that have taken place
south of the border.
"We can look to the United States courts to
get background and context," Baert said Tuesday.
But defence lawyer Lyndon Barnes said the
statement of claim was "over-inclusive" and that there was no
rational connection between every smoker in the province and the
claims of the plaintiffs.
Glendinning also said the plaintiffs have
not demonstrated how the public would benefit from such a suit;
nor are their health problems and reasons for smoking applicable
to the rest of the province's smokers, she added.
"I encourage you to have a critical eye
towards the evidence," Glendinning told Winkler.
Under Ontario law, the public does not have
to opt in if a class action is approved, meaning millions of
smokers could wind up suing the three tobacco companies on their
own if the suit proceeds.
All class actions must be certified by a
judge before they can proceed.
The hearing is scheduled to last two weeks,
but a decision whether to proceed with the suit could take months.
Indexing (document details) Subjects:
Crime, Health, Litigation Classification Codes 9172 Author(s):
Brautigam, Tara Publication title: Canadian Press NewsWire.
Toronto: Jan 13, 2004. Source type: Periodical ProQuest document
ID: 548227961 Text Word Count 419