TORONTO, March 12, 2019 /CNW/ - The decision of the Ontario Court of Justice granting creditor protection to Tobacco giant JTI-Macdonald under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) is "very disturbing" said Garfield Mahood, president of the Campaign for Justice on Tobacco Fraud. "The circumstances surrounding the decision by Justice Glenn Hainey on March 8 raise questions about justice for thousands of Quebec victims of tobacco industry fraud."
The Ontario decision followed closely after the Quebec Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on March 1 in a class action suit that JTI-Macdonald, Imperial Tobacco and Rothmans, Benson and Hedges must pay $14 billion to compensate victims of tobacco industry fraud. "The Quebec judge at the trial level ruled that the industry's behaviour was 'ruthless' and 'immoral', said Mahood. "Given the industry's illegal behaviour, the Ontario court decision would appear to most Canadians to be tobacco-friendly in the extreme. This is a ruling which looks like a decision from an elected judge in a South Carolina tobacco district court."
"The questions jump off the page," said Mahood. "JTI was only obligated to pay $145 million at the time the motion under the CCAA was presented. JTI had the ability to pay $145 million. Why was it let off the hook? Imperial Tobacco and RBH were not under creditor protection. Why were they included in Justice Hainey's decision?"
"Why did the judge suspend action in all of the provincial health care cost recovery lawsuits against all of the defendants until April 5, 2019? The provinces have also filed suit against the international parents of their Canadian subsidiaries. They have the resources to pay. They are not under creditor protection. Moreover, there are no decisions in any of these lawsuits," said Michael Perley, Director, Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.
"The Ontario court decision was made in a reported 30 minute in camera hearing on a Friday afternoon in the absence of lawyers representing the plaintiff victims even though they are reported to have requested notice and an opportunity to appear. Lawyers representing seven of the ten provinces suing for cost recovery are also reported to have asked to have been heard but apparently were denied. Why?" asked Perley.
"The greatest injustice should not be overlooked. Why were the rights of the victims of this predatory industry not given consideration?" asked Mahood.
SOURCE Campaign for Justice on Tobacco Fraud
For further information: Garfield Mahood, 416-451-4285; Michael Perley, 416-709-9075