Hearings in the class-action lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers wrapped up on December 11, 2014, with pleadings by lawyers for the companies being sued. The trial, which began at the Superior Court of Québec on March 12, 2012, pits the three largest Canadian cigarette manufacturers against more than one million Quebecers afflicted with serious diseases caused by smoking or with a dependency on nicotine.
Starting on September 22, 2014, Justice Brian Riordan began hearing the final arguments from the parties. The trial spanned over 253 days of hearings and 16 years of proceedings since the class-action suit was launched in 1998.
The judge is expected to render his verdict in 2015, and the members of the class action will be duly notified of the ruling. This historic judgment is highly anticipated, as the case is without precedent in Canada.
Closing arguments – which began on September 22 – continued at the Palais de justice de Montréal. From September 22 and 30, the court heard closing arguments from lawyers for members of the two groups of plaintiffs. On October 8 and 9, closing arguments were presented by lawyers for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, followed by JTI-Macdonald on October 20, 21 and 23. On November 12, 13, 14 and 17, the court heard final arguments from the last of the three defendants, Imperial Tobacco.
Following these pleadings, lawyers for all parties in the proceedings will debate questions related to documents and evidence on November 21, before delivering their final response on December 8, with the possibility of an additional hearing on December 11. If authorized by the court, the defendants’ pleadings will immediately follow this response.
The proceedings, which are open to the public, take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Superior Court of Québec, located at 1 rue Notre-Dame Est, Montréal, room 17.09.