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Posts Tagged ‘canada class action’

In the latest installment of Bulletproof Blog‘s series on class action trends from the plaintiffs’ perspective, Larry Smith interviews Canadian lawyer Won Kim.  Kim discusses a recent Ontario court ruling that allows U.S. plaintiffs’ firms to provide administrative support and legal expertise to their Canadian counterparts for class action litigation in Canada.  For the complete article, click the link below.

http://www.bulletproofblog.com/2009/11/04/whats-next-the-plaintiffs-perspective-new-ruling-allows-massive-u-s-support-for-class-action-litigants-in-canada/

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A pair of recent letters to the editor of the Yuma, Arizona online newspaper the Yuma Sun debate the impact of class action lawsuits on the success of national healthcare reform in Canada.

The first letter, from David P. Bossler, argues that the success of universal health care in Canada can be attributed in part to restrictions on contingent fee awards and a loser pays rule:

In Canada, the lawyers in class action suits gets paid by the plaintiff for their efforts, win or lose. The plaintiffs get the entire monetary reward and the loser pays court costs.

This eliminates the spurious extremely costly class action suits that bankrupt companies, pay peanuts to the plaintiffs and make billionaires out of the lawyers.

The response, from Canadian lawyer Mark Mounteer, counters that fee agreements and fee-shifting rules in many parts of Canada are quite similar to those in the U.S. and that class actions involving medical malpractice issues are uncommon in both countries:

It would be unusual in either Canada or the U.S. for a class action to be brought for a doctor’s negligence. A class action is brought where a large number of persons are injured by a common cause. A doctor’s error is likely to cause damage to only one person.

As Mounteer intimates, class actions in many parts of Canada are becoming more and more similar to those common in the U.S.  One important thing to consider in thinking about Canadian class actions is that jurisdiction in the federal court system in Canada is much more limited than that of the U.S. federal courts.  So, class action practice is limited almost exclusively to superior courts in individual provinces.  Procedures governing class actions and other aspects of civil procedure can vary significantly from province to province. 

A good source for information on class actions in Canada is Ward Branch’s blog, Class Actions in Canada.

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Julie Treadman of the American Lawyer published this intriguing article today summarizing her interview with former Milberg attorney Andrew Morganti, who has been working as a consultant for a plaintiff’s class action firm in Ontario, Canada.  Morganti provides his perspectives on the fast-developing areas of securities and antitrust class action law in Canada, opportunities for U.S. class action lawyers to assist or consult with Canadian firms, and cooperative efforts between plaintiffs’ firms in the U.S. and Canada to pursue parallel litigation in both countries.

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CBC business columnist Michael Hlinka has this modest proposal for how to prevent class action abuse in Canada: make unsuccessful plaintiffs’ class action attorneys pay the defendant an amount equal to the amount of the contingent fees that they stood to earn if they had won.  It’s  not an idea that is likely to catch on among policymakers, but it’s sure to be popular among those who think that lawyers are the only ones who win in class actions.

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According to this story from the CBC News, a class action has been filed against the Canadian Province of Manitoba for its policies in issuing and prosecuting photo radar speeding tickets near construction areas.  The complaint alleges that the government violated the law by not placing signs properly to mark reduced speed zones and by attempting to enforce reduced speed requirements even when no workers were present.  Some have argued that the program was an illicit attempt to bolster government coffers, pointing to the fact that photo radar tickets in Manitoba increased from 3,000 to 60,000 from 2007 to 2008.

Following earlier rulings in cases arising from the issuance of the tickets themselves, the government was reportedly removing the photo radar devices, canceling tickets,  and now it appears to be considering giving refunds to those who paid the fines.

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The loyal reader will note that ClassActionBlawg covers class action trends in other parts of the world, including Canada.  But since I live about 1000 miles (or 1609.344 km) from Canada, and certainly have no license to practice law there, you have to take anything I say about trends in Canadian law with a huge grain of salt. 

Not so with Ward Branch’s aptly named blog Class Actions in Canada.  If you want to get an insider’s view of class action news, legislation, decisions, and trends across the border, be sure check it out:

http://classactionsincanada.blogspot.com/

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A colleague tipped me off today to the Supreme Court of Canada’s April 2 decision in Canada Post Corp. v. Lépine, 2009 SCC 16.  In that case, Canada’s high court upheld a lower court decision limiting the reach of a settlement class action filed in Ontario, purportedly on behalf of all residents of Canada other than residents of British Columbia.  The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision was an appeal from the Court of Appeal for Quebec, arising from a competing, parallel class action filed on behalf of Quebec residents.  The Quebec court had refused to recognize the validity of the Ontario court’s judgment approving the settlement in that case.

The high court’s ruling:

  • offers an analysis of the “Legal Framework for the Recognition of External Judgments,” including issues of comity in evaluating the binding effect of a judgment in one province on residents of another province,
  • discusses the concept of forum non conveniens in the context of national class actions, 
  • addresses issues of proper class notice in multi-jurisdictional settlements, and
  • comments on problems of national class action settlements in Canada in general, including the need for communication and cooperation between trial courts in different jurisdictions and the need for intervention by provincial legislatures in creating a more comprehensive framework for national class actions.

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