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

Town council votes to reclassify LB Warner lot for residential use

Smithers just got one step closer to more affordable housing, but there are still many to go

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

A medical first saved Ryan Jones’ life

The 25-year-old Smithers man is almost fully recovered after being effectively dead.

Steelheads recruiting event shows promise

A small but enthusiastic group of organizers is hoping to put a Smithers team back in the CIHL

Fletcher disregards facts on climate action

Letter writer Macrae says inaction jeopardizes jobs

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Canfor curtailing operations across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read