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

Free Clark’s Nutcracker presentation Wednesday at Scout Island

Speakers for the event are Randy Moody and Ken Wright

BC Wildfire Service fighting new fire near Comstock Lake

The fire is 76 hectares in size and currently out of control

Moleschi, Canada, claim Kitakyushu Sevens title as 2020 Olympics draw near

Canada now sits in second place in the overall series standings with 66 points

COLUMNS: Set enforceable standards

We all wish Mayor Walt Cobb a speedy recovery

SLIDESHOW: 3rd annual Realm of Toys Easter Festival in Williams Lake a great success

From a petting zoo to a bouncy castle and animal balloons, lakecity children loved the event

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

Most Read