Big Canadian Suits
Her Majesty in Right of Alberta v. Altria Group Inc. et al.; Eli Lilly v. Novopharm Limited; Commissioner of Competition v. CCS Corporation et al.
Her Majesty in Right of Alberta v. Altria Group Inc. et al.
The government of Alberta is taking Big Tobacco to court, suing for $10 billion in health care costs and damages related to smoking since the 1950s. The province is suing some of the tobacco industry's biggest players, including the Canadian units of Philip Morris International Inc., British American Tobacco PLC, and Japan Tobacco Inc.
The Alberta suit is similar to actions launched by several other Canadian provinces following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year that the Canadian government does not share legal liability for health care claims against tobacco companies. The Alberta suit is in its early stages; a case management judge was appointed by the Alberta Court of Queens Bench in late August.
"This lawsuit, to be clear, is not about banning cigarettes or punishing smokers," Alberta Premier Alison Redford said when the suit was launched. "It is about recovering health care costs as a result of the misconduct of the tobacco industry."
Since the Supreme Court of Canada's decision, legal action by provinces to recover costs from tobacco companies has accelerated. All 10 provinces and two of Canada's three northern territories have created legislation to enable them to sue the tobacco industry for smoking-related medicare costs. Alberta's Right of Recovery Act, which allows for recovery of health care costs, was passed in 2009.
A ruling in May by Ontario's highest court in a separate case defeated a bid for dismissal by the international parent companies of Canadian tobacco firms. The ruling is seen as important to suits such as Alberta's because the international parent firms have a larger capacity to pay significant damages.
For plaintiff Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Alberta
May Jensen Shawa Solomon Duguid Hawkes: The firm did not identify the lawyers working on the suit by press time.
For defendant British American Tobacco
Stikeman Elliott: Litigation: David Byers, Michael Mestinsek, and associate Lesley Mercer. (Byers and Mestinsek are in Calgary; Mercer is in Toronto.)
For defendants British American Tobacco (Investments) Limited and B.A.T Industries PLC
Dentons: The firm did not identify the lawyers working on the suit by press time.
For defendant Imperial Tobacco Company Limited
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt: Litigation: Deborah Glendinning, Tristram Mallett, and associates Sandeep Joshi, Tara Kyluik, and Kelly Osaka. (All are in Calgary except Glendinning, who is in Toronto.)
For defendants Philip Morris International Inc., Philip Morris USA Inc., and Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc.
McCarthy Tétrault: Michael Feder, Simon Potter, Kara Smyth, and Sean Smyth. (All are in Calgary, expect for Potter, who is in Montreal.)