Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear appeal by foreign tobacco
companies in Ontario medicare cost recovery lawsuit
TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - The Supreme Court of Canada today refused
to hear an appeal by foreign tobacco companies seeking to be removed as
defendants in Ontario's $50 billion medicare cost recovery lawsuit
against the tobacco industry. The foreign companies were attempting to
overturn a May 30, 2013, judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal that
had dismissed their motion to be removed from the lawsuit.
"This decision is significant in terms of a victory for the Ontario
government and a defeat for the tobacco industry," says Rob Cunningham,
lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. "Foreign
parent tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco must be held
to account before the courts for their role in causing an epidemic of
disease and death."
"It is essential that these giant foreign parent tobacco companies be
defendants," adds Cunningham. "The companies have internal documents
that provide valuable evidence of what tobacco companies knew regarding
the effects of tobacco use on health, and when they knew it. The
companies also have very deep pockets that would allow the Ontario
Government to collect far more in damages than could be obtained from
the Canadian subsidiaries alone."
Today's judgment continues a trend. Courts in British Columbia,
Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick have also rejected attempts by
foreign companies to be removed as defendants. In the British Columbia
and New Brunswick cases, the Supreme Court of Canada also refused to
hear appeals sought by the tobacco industry. In Saskatchewan, the Court
of Queen's Bench dismissed the tobacco industry motion. In Quebec, the
Quebec Superior Court dismissed the tobacco industry motion, and the
Quebec Court of Appeal refused to hear an appeal.
The main issue at stake in the medicare cost recovery lawsuit is if the
tobacco industry will be held liable to pay damages for tobacco-related
health care costs. A trial date for this lawsuit has not been set in
Ontario or other provinces.
In addition to today's legal victory, the government recently introduced
Bill 131, which will ban flavoured tobacco products, require patios to
be smoke-free, prohibit tobacco sales on university/college campuses,
and implement other measures in Ontario.
"We applaud the Ontario Government not only for its ongoing medicare
cost recovery lawsuit but also for bringing forward strengthened
amendments to the Smoke-free Ontario Act," says Rowena Pinto, VP,
Public Affairs, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "On the
momentum of this important step forward on cost recovery, we urge all
political parties to support adoption as soon as possible of this
important bill to reduce youth smoking."
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization
of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the
enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When
you want to know more about cancer, visit our website, www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at
SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division)
For further information:
Senior Policy Analyst
Canadian Cancer Society
613-565-2522 ext. 4981
Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division