Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Ask and you shall receive!

A  gift arrived for me from Toronto late last week in the form of a USB key containing the key documents in the Ontario cost-recover action.

Among these were the statements of defence by the industry that were produced after Ontario Superior Court Case Management Master, Donald E. Short, put his judicial foot down six months ago, expressing frustration that the case had been ongoing for 8 years without defence statements yet being filed. Even then, it would seem that he relented and gave them another month on the deadline of March 31st, as the documents are date-stamped for the end of April.

The set of documents I have now include the  "Amended Fresh as Amended" statement of claim by the Ontario government, as well as the defence filings of the following companies:

These are among the first set of industry documents produced after Justice Riordan's ruling in the Quebec class actions -- but it would take a more careful eye than mine to notice if their blanket disavowals are differently expressed than they would have been without this ruling.

I have not - yet - given these papers the careful read they deserve. But even a quick glance at the Imperial Tobacco defence suggests that it has not altered its version of events.

Entertaining to read is its view of aspects of the case which were not pertinent in Quebec. As I read it, the company says that the Ontario government was not harmed smoking, and that it was not obliged to pay the health care costs of smokers who became ill. They weren't forced to pay these costs -- it was a policy decision to do so ("the product of decisions by the Province based upon, inter alia, political expediency, policy considerations and the ability to finance"). Moreover, Ontario receives money from the federal government or other shared cost programs to pay for medical treatment. And then there are the taxes paid to the Ontario government which, say the company, "exceed" the costs of medical treatment. (See paras 163-168)

Not exactly light summer reading, but much appreciated nonetheless.