Class Action Lawsuits in Canada
A class action is a kind of lawsuit brought by a group against an entity or entities that have harmed them all similarly. It is done through a representative claimant who is the named Plaintiff in the class action. That person usually has a situation similar to most members of the class of people whose interests are represented in the proceeding. Sometimes claims are small on an individual basis but if the class of people who have a claim is large the class action is a big claim. Because the complainants’ claims have more weight and credibility when examined collectively, this is an efficient and cost-effective means of getting many victims’ cases determined at once. Since the same witnesses and authorities will be relevant in each case, consolidating them makes sense. It also allows a Defendant to settle knowing that they will then not face individual claims later for the same thing. Once a class action is brought everyone who has a similar claim becomes a member of the class and subject to the findings in the class action lawsuit unless they specifically choose to opt out of the class action so they can bring their own claim.
Most class action claims settle and all settlements must be approved by the court and found to be in the best interests of the members of the class who are claiming. Individual class members may give input to the court when a settlement is proposed. This may include opposing the settlement especially if they would not benefit from it or if they believe the compensation is not adequate. Once a settlement is approved by the court people who are entitled then file claims which are assessed by a claims administrator in accordance with the settlement agreement. Once all claims are assessed it can be determined how much any person will receive as compensation. It may still take a long time from settlement to payment as many of our clients have experienced with the Vioxx case which settled with an agreement in January 2012, with court approval given in September 2012 and claims still being assessed almost to the end of 2015. Payment of those claims is now expected early in 2016.
The principle behind a class action is that more people were harmed than can reasonably be gathered to participate individually in a lawsuit. So those bringing the action are representing a “class” of people who were damaged.
Examples of Class Actions
- Securities fraud that affects all investors who paid for a particular stock, bond, or fund and then lost their money due to deception
- Patients who were prescribed a medication and suffered side effects known by the pharmaceutical company but undisclosed
- A factory spills toxic chemicals into the water supply, causing thousands in a nearby town to suffer ill effects
- A company discovered a defect in a popular product and does not issue a recall, leading to the injury or death of hundreds of consumers
Class Actions and Asbestos
Back in the 1960s, when the dangers of asbestos exposure became common knowledge, class actions sprung up across the United States. There were also a great number of individual claims against asbestos product manufacturers and employers. In Canada asbestos victims are generally stopped from suing because of restrictions in Workers Compensation legislation. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of the deadly cancer mesothelioma and some other cancer types. Many companies knew the dangers of exposure but decided not to inform employees working with asbestos of those risks. Named defendants in asbestos class actions included shipbuilders, construction and mining companies, and manufacturers and distributors of products that contained asbestos. There are no asbestos class actions in Canada but Canadians may be entitled to compensation through Workers Compensation or Veterans Affairs. Alternatively, they can go through the asbestos trust funds set up when the asbestos companies being sued went bankrupt.
How Miskin Law Can Help
As a Canada lawyer experienced in class action lawsuits especially with prescription medications, and also claims related to mesothelioma, lung cancer and other ailments stemming from asbestos exposure, Murray Miskin can determine the best course of action in your situation to collect the damages to which you are entitled. We work with existing class actions and have initiated our own sometimes partnering with other class action lawyers. As a general policy we represent individuals making individual claims where that is the best route for maximizing compensation for the individual client. We always advise our class action clients of their right to opt out of the class action and explain their choice giving specific individual advice. When a class action settles we work hard to document our clients claim to maximize their right to compensation within the class action. We charge a percentage as a contingency fee form class action clients so those who end up with no compensation do not get billed or have to pay for our expenses on their behalf.
Contact Miskin Law today for a free consultation to see where you or your loved one stands with regard to collecting monetary relief for your losses, pain and suffering.