Thursday, 11 July 2019

Canada's newest Supreme Court justice highlights the significance of the Blais-Létourneau victory

Late this afternoon, the Prime Minister's Office announced that Nicholas Kasirer was the newest appointment to Canada's 9-bench Supreme Court.

Justice Kasirer has sat on the Quebec Court of Appeal since 2009. On a handful of occasions he was assigned to rule on some of the many interlocutory appeals filed by tobacco companies during the Quebec tobacco class action suits. His most powerful involvement in tobacco litigation, it goes without saying, was his membership on the 5-judge panel that on March 1, this year  unanimously ad almost entirely upheld the 2015 ruling of Justice Riordan.

It turns out that he counts this as one of the most significant cases that came  before him.

As part of his nomination process, Justice Kasirer was asked to "Describe the five (5) most significant cases or matters that you dealt with while in legal practice or as a judge and how you dealt with them." His answer, made public today, was prefaced as follows:

I hasten to say that the most far-reaching case in which I shared in the preparation of unanimous reasons is arguably Imperial Tobacco Canada ltée c. Conseil québécois sur le tabac et la santé, 2019 QCCA 358 (Morissette, Hilton, Bich, Kasirer and Parent, JJ.A.), rendered on March 1, 2019. It is 417 pages in length and numbers 1285 paragraphs. The Court dismissed an appeal against a judgment maintaining two class actions against three tobacco companies brought by smokers who developed lung cancer and smokers who developed an addiction to tobacco. The appeal concerns the liability of manufacturers and the private law duty to inform; fault, causation and the apportionment of liability; wrongful conduct including misrepresentation under the Consumer Protection Act; violation of fundamental rights under the Quebec Charter; prescription; punitive damages; and various other issues including some related to class action procedure and practice.

The reasons for judgment in Imperial Tobacco are signed by the five-member panel and authorship is not otherwise identified...