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Monday, December 29, 2008

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Court approvals in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario are all that it will now take for Maple Leaf Foods to close the book on a series of class action lawsuits related to a listeriosis outbreak.

The settlement provides that Maple Leaf will pay between $25 million and $27 million. The amount of money that each class member will receive depends upon the severity of their illness.

“Our goal throughout this legal process has been to negotiate a fair and early settlement so that we can obtain court approvals and promptly compensate families who were affected,” says company president and CEO Michael McCain.

“This was a tragic experience and I want to acknowledge the co-operation of all the parties involved to ensure that people affected receive timely restitution.”

The actions were started by those who consumed or bought Maple Leaf products that were included in an August recall after it was found that they could be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes. The outbreak was linked to 20 deaths across the country.

“We are very pleased all of the actions across Canada have been resolved quickly, efficiently, and in the best interest of the class,” said Colin Stevenson of Stevensons LLP, who acted for the class along with a consortium of lawyers.

Ted Charney of Falconer Charney LLP, who also acted for the class, added, “Our clients are delighted with the result. We are working towards obtaining court approval and ensuring that the class members are paid immediately.”

The courts in Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan must approve the settlement. The approval hearing in Ontario is set to take place in early 2009 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

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Bennett Jones LLP and Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP have both been named one of the “50 Best Employers in Canada” by international consulting firm Hewitt Associates and the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine.

Bennett Jones came in at the No. 3 position to mark its seventh year on the list. The firm debuted on the list at No. 34 in 2003 and has been fourth for the last two years.

“This is a remarkable honour for the firm and a testament to the exceptional commitment of our staff and lawyers to our clients and to each other. Our people walk the talk,” says Hugh MacKinnon, the firm’s chairman and CEO.

Daryl Refvik, the firm’s national human resources director says: "Many places can speak about great work culture, but our people live it and demonstrate it every day by sharing and instilling values that have helped make Bennett Jones one of the top law firms in Canada and one of the best places to work."

In its first attempt to make the list, Gowlings came in at No. 36.

“Many organizations try several times before they make the list. Gowlings is clearly doing the right things to engage the people they need to achieve success,” says Neil Crawford, Hewitt Associates’ leader of the study.

More than 75 per cent of Gowlings’ employees participated in the study and of those, 90 per cent said they enjoyed working at the firm.

“We have an incredible team of passionate employees who develop and maintain a high-performance work culture. The survey results are a wonderful validation by our employees, that our collaborative efforts to create excellence are paying off” says Gowlings’ chairman and CEO Scott Jolliffe.

The Ontario Superior Court has given its blessing to a class action settlement between Manulife Securities Investment Services Inc. and Société Générale.

The deal relates to some investment products of Portus Alternative Asset Management Inc. and related entities, said Manulife in a press release.

Under the settlement, approved by Justice Colin Campbell, “Société Générale has agreed to repurchase deposit instruments underlying the Portus investments that are held by KPMG Inc., the trustee in bankruptcy of the Portus estate, prior to their maturity such that the total face value of all of the Société Générale deposit instruments will have been paid upon the completion of the settlement,” said Manulife.

“Under the settlement, Société Générale continues to deny all of the allegations in the lawsuit and completion of the settlement is subject to Société Générale’s right to terminate the settlement if the opt-out threshold provided for in the settlement agreement is exceeded.”

Portus investors don’t need to take any steps to take part in the settlement, said Manulife.

Sheridan Scott, fresh off a stint as Canada’s competition commissioner, has landed at Bennett Jones LLP.

The firm’s chairman and CEO Hugh MacKinnon said in a release that he was “absolutely thrilled” about Scott’s arrival.

Scott took on the role of competition commissioner in January 2004 after acting as chief regulatory officer of Bell Canada. She also spent time with the CBC and CRTC.

In 2007, Scott became chairwoman of the International Competition Network Steering Group, and this year received a special recognition award at the Canadian New Media Awards, along with various other accomplishments.

Scott will join David Dodge, Eddie Goldenberg, and John Jessup in Bennett Jones’ Ottawa office, which is set to formally open early in 2009.

Said Scott: “My time in public service has been very rewarding, and I’m proud of the accomplishments of the Competition Bureau during my tenure. I look forward now to putting my expertise to work for one of Canada’s leading law firms and its clients.”
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