Wednesday, 15 May 2019

A wrinkle in time

May 14 saw the Quebec Class Action case before courts in Toronto and Montreal simultaneously.

A few gathered before Judge Brian Riordan in the intimate confines of small courtroom 16.03 in the Montreal court house for a micro-hearing of 15 minutes that produced a micro-decision.  Neither Alexandre Fallon for ITL nor Jean Lortie for RBH had much to say.  André Lespérance did most of the talking for the class action plaintiffs.  He was accompanied by his colleagues Gabrielle Gagné and Pierre Boivin.

Since the last meeting in Judge Riordan’s court over 22,000 class members had been contacted to seek their approval for the proposed use of the insurance company assets. Thirteen objected, of whom three withdrew their objections after being given some explanation. Judge Riordan reviewed the 10 remaining objections and concluded that the money should be used to better communicate with class members and to reimburse the Fonds d’aide as planned.  He concluded “that the Settlement Agreements are fair, reasonable and in the best interest of class members.”

Justice Riordan was told that the micro-matter of disposing of the assets of defunct insurance companies Kansa and Northumberland was the subject of much discussion in a Toronto court today which concluded with Justice McEwen announcing that on May 31 he would make a decision on which court had jurisdiction to decide the use of the insurance money, unless an agreement among the parties was reached first.  Justice Riordan scheduled another hearing on June 4 to further consider the insurance money question.  More is destined to be said on the jurisdiction issue.

In explaining to Justice Riordan the activities of the court-appointed mediator over the past few weeks, counsel for the plaintiffs stumbled slightly over the name of the former chief justice of the Ontario court. Then, from plaintiffs' counsel's back bench came, sotto voce, a polite correction - "Winkler, not Wrinkler."

Laughter all around, including from the speaker of the malapropism.  As the CCAA process drags on, moments of levity are regrettably becoming fewer and farther between.

 [1] CONSIDERING the Motion to Approve Settlements between the Class Action Plaintiffs and Certain Insurers in Liquidation;
[2] CONSIDERING the representations of the parties at the hearing;
[3] CONSIDERING the nature of the objections of the members filed pursuant to the notice approved by the court on April 30, 2019;
[4] CONSIDERING article 590 of the Code of civil procedure;
[5] CONSIDERING that this court is of the opinion that the Settlement Agreements are fair, reasonable and in the best interest of class members;

[6] GRANTS the present Motion in part;
[7] ORDERS that the Settlement Agreements remain under seal and that the settlement amounts payable thereunder not be disclosed unless otherwise ordered;
[8] APPROVE the settlement agreement dated July 4, 2017 (Exhibit P-1 under seal) entered into between Kansa General International Insurance Company Ltd., Ferdinand Alfieri, in his capacity as liquidator of Kansa General International Insurance Company Ltd., Jean-Yves Blais (now deceased) and Conseil Quebecois sur le Tabac et la Sante, in their capacity as class representatives in Court File
number 500-06-000076-980 and Cecilia Letourneau, in her capacity as class representative in Court File number 500-06-000070-983;
[9] APPROVE the settlement agreement dated February 16, 2017 (Exhibit P-3 under seal) entered into between Northumberland General Insurance Company, through its liquidator PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., Jean-Yves Blais (now deceased) and Conseil Quebecois sur le Tabac et la Sante in their capacity as class representatives in Court File number 500-06-000076-980 and Cecilia Letourneau, in her capacity as class representative in Court File number 500-06-000070-983;
 [10] AUTHORIZE Class Counsel to withdraw from the Court record Exhibits P-1 and P-3;
[11] ORDER that the proceeds of the Settlement Agreements be paid to Fishman Flanz Meland Paquin LLP in trust ("FFMP"), as contemplated in the Settlement Agreements, and forthwith thereafter transferred by FFMP to the Trust account of the law firm Trudel Johnston & Lesperance;
[12] THE WHOLE without costs.