Liability for Opioid Epidemic
Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto is pursuing a class action against major pharmaceutical companies on behalf of people in Canada who were prescribed and became addicted to opioids.
The Statement of Claim, issued in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on May 15, 2019 and recently amended on June 22, 2022, alleges that the manufacturers and distributors of opioids sought to expand the market for, and increase sales of, Opioids by developing a false and misleading new narrative about Opioids. It alleges that the defendants’ campaign promoting the use of opioids for various chronic conditions led to widespread addiction among individuals who were prescribed those medications.
This action comes on the heels of medical findings that opioids are no more effective than NSAIDS at treating many chronic conditions for which they are routinely prescribed. The lawsuit alleges that manufactures knew of this limited efficacy, and the significant risk of addiction, but promoted their products for these uses anyway.
The claim alleges that the defendants made fraudulent misrepresentations, were negligent in their research, development, manufacture, testing, regulatory licencing, distribution, sale and marketing of opioids, and breached the Competition Act. The lawsuit seeks $1.1 billion in damages.
January 12, 2023
On December 12, 2022, the judge issued a file direction bifurcating the certification motion. This means that the judge will hear the certification motion in two phases. In the first phase, the judge will consider if the remedies that the plaintiff seeks from the defendants are available in law. In the second phase, the plaintiff will have to show that the lawsuit should proceed as a class action based on evidence and the commonality of the issues that a judge will have to determine in the lawsuit.
The defendants in this action have told us that they plan to bring preliminary motions asking the court to dismiss this action for two reasons: (i) lack of a viable legal theory entitling the plaintiff to compensation, and (i) the court’s alleged lack of jurisdiction to hear the subject matter of the lawsuit. A preliminary motion is when a party in a proposed class proceeding asks a judge to make a decision about the case before the judge decides whether it should continue as a class action. The plaintiff opposes the defendants’ preliminary motions.
As part of the December 12 file direction, the judge has ordered that the preliminary motions will be heard along with phase one of the certification motion.
July 15, 2022
Perell J. issued an order dismissing the dismissal and timetables motions on the basis of the agreement reached between the parties. Based on that agreement, the parties will now move towards the hearing of the certification motion in this proceeding.
July 5, 2022
The parties reached an agreement to settle the dismissal and timetable motions, which had been due to be heard on July 5, 2022.
June 22, 2022
An Amended Fresh Amended Statement of Claim has been filed by the plaintiff.
May 6, 2022
The parties exchanged factums on the dismissal and timetable motions, which are due to be heard on July 5, 2022.
April 20, 2022
The plaintiff has filed his certification motion record.
February 11, 2022
A Fresh as Amended Statement of Claim has been filed by the plaintiff.
January 5, 2022
The plaintiff has brought a motion for a timetable for certification. The plaintiff’s motion will be heard, along with the defendants motion to dismiss the proceeding, on July 5, 2022.
December 21, 2021
The defendants in this action filed a motion seeking to dismiss the proceeding for delay.
May 15, 2019
The Statement of Claim in this action has been issued.
- January 12, 2023
News Releases and Reports
- December 12, 2022 File Direction of Perell J.
- July 15, 2022 Reasons of Perell J., Dismissing Motions based on Agreement
- July 15, 2022 Order of Perell J., Dismissing Motions based on Agreement
- June 22, 2022 Amended Fresh as Amended Statement of Claim
- February 11, 2022 Fresh As Amended Statement of Claim
- May 15, 2019 Statement of Claim
What is a class action?
A class action is a lawsuit which provides a method for a large group of people with common claims to join together to advance one large claim. Class actions are a more efficient and cost-effective way for groups of people with common claims to gain access to the legal system and seek justice.
What does certification mean?
In order for an action to proceed as a class action, the court must determine whether it is appropriate for the case to be treated as a class action. Some of the factors the courts consider are the extent to which the claims of the class
members are common, and whether a class action is preferable to other methods (such as individual actions) of advancing the issues. The decision as to whether a class action should be certified takes place at a certification hearing and is decided by a judge. If certified, a representative plaintiff will advance the action on behalf of all of the class members.
How do I know if I am a Class Member?
The certification order will always contain a description of who is a class member. We post the certification orders in our actions so that you can review them. You do not need to “sign up” to become involved in a class action. If you are included in the class description, you are automatically a class member who will be affected by the outcome of the class action unless you decide to “opt out”.
Are Class Members notified of the certification of the class proceeding?
Yes. After the claim has been certified, the court will authorize notice to be given to the members of the class.
Can I opt out of a class action and pursue independent legal action?
Yes. When a class action is certified, class members are always given an opportunity to opt out of the action. A deadline is imposed for opting out. If you do not opt out by the given deadline, class members will be bound by the outcome of the class action, whether it is successful or unsuccessful. If you opt out, you will not receive any benefit if the action is successful.
Will there be any cost to class members for legal fees?
Typically, class actions are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that the class action lawyers will be paid only if the class action is successful at trial or settled. In that case, class counsel fees may be paid by the defendants or out of the settlement or judgment proceeds as approved by the court. In addition, the plaintiff may seek funding assistance from the Class Proceeding Fund which, if funding is granted, may provide funding for disbursements.
I still have questions…
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