Following a lengthy class-action lawsuit, the Quebec Superior Court has ordered that three major tobacco companies pay C$15bn in damages, for failing to adequately inform smokers about the risks associated with their products. Legal proceedings began in March 2012, 13 years after the lawsuit was initiated, and involves JTI-MacDonald, Imperial Tobacco and Rothmans Benson & Hedges, who have each stated they will appeal against the decision.
The case is widely believed to be the biggest class-action lawsuit in
The case is widely believed to be the biggest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history, and was credited by many as a victory for smokers. “It’s a big day for victims of tobacco, who have been waiting for about 17 years for this decision. It was a long process — but arrived at the destination and it’s a big victory”, said Mario Bujold, Executive Director of the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, to CBC News.
The fine comes in answer to two lawsuits lodged against the firms in 1998, which together sought C$27bn in damages. The first stems from individuals whose health suffered as a result of smoking, whereas the second was launched by a group who found themselves unable to quit. Both groups alleged that the companies in question failed to warn them about the dangers of smoking, while also underestimating studies into the repercussions and, in light of this information, marketing their products irresponsibly.
According to the ruling, the firms must pay CAD 90,000-100,000 to plaintiffs with related cancers, with the amount paid dictated by the date they started smoking, and CAD 130 to almost one million smokers who say they were unable to quit. Each of the three companies have stated that they will appeal against the court’s decision, though, irrespective of the outcome, they must pay out at least C$1bn to the affected individuals.