Class Action

Ruling shows court discretion in class actions

An Ontario judge’s recent move to end a dispute over who will represent plaintiffs in a class action against a pharmaceutical company is a “rare” ruling that highlights the significant discretion courts have in managing these matters, Toronto commercial litigation and class-action lawyer Brian Radnoff tells Law Times.

As the article reports, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell dismissed an interlocutory motion and cross-motion in September, ending the matter of Kutlu v. Laboratorios Leon Farma as a class action for now, and “disqualifying two lawyers from acting on behalf of any class member in any similar case against the pharmaceutical companies involved.”

The ruling followed a dispute over which lawyer could represent the class members. Recently, an Alberta court certified a similar class action, Kohler v. Apotex Inc. and Laboratorios Leon Farma and Law Times reports that the settlement approval hearing is scheduled for the near future.

“The court has a significant amount of discretion, so it can basically do what it believes is fair and just and in the interest of the plaintiff class,” explains Radnoff, partner with Dickinson Wright.

“Justice Perell crafts a very specific order to this situation and I think what is more novel is his determination that if there is an action [in Ontario], depending on what happens in Alberta, this should not proceed not as a class action but as a multiple-plaintiff action,” he tells Law Times.

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