Supreme Court sides with N.B. rulings in tobacco lawsuit

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed with costs the leave-to-appeal applications of several tobacco manufacturers seeking to overturn key rulings of New Brunswick courts.

Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Philip Morris International and other companies sought to overturn previous decisions of the New Brunswick Court of Appeal and the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench in the provincial government’s lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers.

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the contingency-fee agreement entered into by the provincial government with outside counsel.

“We are happy with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision as it confirms our ability – and indeed, the ability of other provinces – to make use of contingency fee arrangements in cases of this magnitude,” said Attorney General Marie-Claude Blais.

“It also confirms our ability to limit the commitment of public resources to pursue such claims under provincial legislation.”

The courts have rejected the tobacco companies’ challenges and confirmed the right of the provincial government to retain external lawyers on a contingency-fee basis to advance New Brunswick’s claim under the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act.

New Brunswick is one of several provinces pursuing litigation against the tobacco industry in relation to alleged tobacco-related wrongs in order to recover damages for health-care costs.

“We are anxious to move this case forward and to have the provincial government’s claim determined by the Court of Queen’s Bench as soon as possible,” Blais said.


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