Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Holiday season (for some)

The Blais-Létourneau trial is on recess for another month, but it's a fair guess that the legal teams involved in tobacco litigation in Canada have not been able to fully enjoy this spectacularly warm and sunny July.

Appeal Court hearing on August 9th

In just over two weeks Quebec's Court of Appeal will consider the federal government's request to overturn Justice Riordan's ruling which kept them in this case as well as his decision to allow Imperial Tobacco to amend its claim against them. (On April 20th, Justice Kasirer of the Court of Appeal opted to defer  all decisions on the requests to a three-judge "bench"). 

Decisions from New Brunswick

Lawyers involved in other tobacco cases have also been given summer deadlines. Justice Cyr of New Brunswick's Court of Queen's Bench is responsible for the case management of New Brunswick's claim agains the companies for damages related to health care costs. At the beginning of this month, he expressed frustration with BAT's attempts to delay proceedings and ordered those companies to have their Statement of Defence filed with the court by late August.

Provincial statements of claim

Tobacco industry lawyers will also be working on their defence to the two new provincial claims that were filed on June 8th.  The Quebec government's claim is for $60 billion, and the Alberta government claim for "at least $10 billion" also seeks "an order prohibiting the Defendants from continuing their misrepresentations, deceptive marketing practices and unfair trading practices" and "such further and othe relief the court may deem just." Alberta is the first province to include specific non-monetary remedies in their claim -- they are notably missing from those of the other provinces that have filed suit to date (British Columbia, New BrunswickOntario, Newfoundland).

A disappeared brand
Federal Court of Appeal rules on one of the world's most famous trademarks.

It's not only lawyers who have been busy as a result of court decisions. In late June, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Philip Morris/Rothmans, Benson and Hedges 2010 court victory against Imperial Tobacco's challenge of PM/RBH's Rooftop brand as an infringement of ITL's ownership of the Marlborough trademark in Canada.

My local retailer tells me this ruling caused a bit of a scramble as all the "Rooftop" packages were pulled from shelves and the (very few) customers of the brand were left to quit or switch.  The significance of this decision to public health may be uncertain, but this shows that even if public health law hasn't yet  removed cigarettes from the market, intellectual property law has.

Themed lists of Blais-Létourneau exhibits

The pause in the hearings for the class cations has allowed for a more leisurely reading of the
almost 850 exhibits that were presented during the first four months of the trial. In an attempt to make reading them a little more efficient, we are assembling chronologies of documents related to some key themes in the trial. 

The first are: 

Back to the cottage!

The weather in Montreal is predicted to continue warm and mostly sunny - enjoy it those who can!