The big players from Canada’s tobacco industry are in appeals court this week looking to overturn a landmark ruling they lost in 2015.
That year a judge ruled in favour of about 100,000 tobacco-addicted Quebecers who had developed serious conditions, including cancer or emphysema, as well as an additional 918,000 smokers in that province. Those with health issues were awarded a total of $15 billion.
Lawyers for the big three, Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald and Rothmans-Benson & Hedges, are claiming that the judge who heard the the class-action suits created his own law.
Montreal Lawyer Simon Potter contends that Superior Court Justice Brian Riordan used “common sense” when determining the cause of the plaintiff’s conditions. It was a “clear error of law” according to Potter, because it was largely based on what he called “conjecture”.
The cigarette companies also maintain that their customers knew the risks of smoking and that their products were strictly regulated by the federal government, and sold legally.
This week’s hearing in appellate court is expected to last until the end of the week.