Canada - Supreme Court grants government a hearing..

May 20, 2010 - On May 17th we reported that the Supreme Court of Canada today, May 20th was to release its judgment on Thursday, May 20th on whether the Canadian government should be a defendant in a lawsuit against tobacco companies over the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses. (Canada - Supreme Court decision coming: can government be added as a defendant..)

The Supreme Court of Canada granted the government’s request for a hearing.

The tobacco companies, facing a suit by British Columbia for unspecified damages over the cost of treatment of cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses, claim the federal government knew of the risks of smoking while it regulated the industry.

A finding of government liability “would place an indeterminate strain on available public resources and would effectively create an insurance scheme for tobacco manufacturers at the expense of Canadian taxpayers,” according to a filing from the government.

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia in December overturned a trial judge’s decision that had removed the federal government from the case. In a 3-2 decision, the appeals court ruled the government must be added as a co-defendant as requested by the tobacco companies. (Canada - Tobacco companies win partial legal victory..)

British Columbia was the first Canadian province to sue over the cost of treating smokers. Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, also sued tobacco manufacturers and is seeking C$50 billion ($47 billion).

The tobacco companies include Imperial Tobacco Ltd., Japan Tobacco Inc.’s JTI-MacDonald, British American Tobacco Plc and Rothmans Inc.

The case is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada v. Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited. 33559. Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa).

Reference: Canada Wins Top Court Hearing Over Tobacco Treatment Costs by Joe Schneider ( and Alexandre Deslongchamps (, Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/20/2010.