March 22nd, 2012
Two historic class action lawsuits that were filed in 1998 finally reached trial on March 12, 2012 in Montreal. The cases, Cecilia Letourneau v. JTI_Macdonald Corp., Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. and Conseil quebecois sur le tabac et la santé and Jean-Yves Blais v. JTI-Macdonald Corp., Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc, carry specific demands by the plaintiffs.
In the Letourneau case, the plaintiffs demand a payment of $5000 to each addicted Quebec smoker as compensation for his or her addiction, while the plaintiffs in the Blais case demand $100,000 in compensation for each Quebec smoker who has suffered from lung cancer, emphysema, larynx cancer or throat cancer. The estimate for the total amount sought in these two cases is $27 billion (Can).
The cases were certified as class actions in 2005. Three years later, each of the tobacco company defendants brought in the federal government as third party defendants.
Rob Cunningham, senior policy analysts for the Canadian Cancer Society, told the Montreal Gazette that the trial is “a chance to find out what the industry knew, when they knew it and how they used the information.” A daily blog is available for updates on the trial, which is expected to last at least two years, at http://tobaccotrial.blogspot.com