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Product Liability Class Actions

Bruce Lemer has been plaintiffs’ co-counsel in the largest products liability class action in Canadian  history, the 1986-1990 Hepatitis C class action. This class action compensated thousands of people infected with Hepatitis C through blood transfusions. He was also counsel for numerous victims of blood transfusions and blood products tainted with HIV against the Canadian and British Columbia governments and Canadian and U. S. blood product manufacturers. He is now applying the knowledge and experience gained in the Hepatitis C class action and other product liability actions to a proposed class action on behalf of owners of mold and mildew prone front loading washing machines.

Claims arising from the manufacture and sale of allegedly defective products are frequently the subject of class action litigation, often in multiple Canadian jurisdictions. Products liability class action lawsuits aim to recover damages from injuries resulting from the use of a product. They are also aimed at punishing of the manufacturer for the design, manufacture or marketing of a defective product put in the stream of commerce.

A manufacturer or seller of a product may find itself defending a product liability class action lawsuit if it fails to use reasonable care in the design, production or assembly of its product or if it does not keep the promises made in its claims or representations regarding the quality of its product. Product liability class actions may also be initiated as a result of misrepresentations in the advertising or lack of adequate warnings about a product. Inadequate warnings involve situations where the manufacturer failed to disclose a defect or potential hazard of its product.

Product liability class action lawsuits are one of the most complex areas of law to litigate. They typically demand a firm with knowledge, experience and sufficient resources to fund expenses and invest the time necessary to prevail over a large corporation.

The class action is a relatively new tool that alters the balance of power between plaintiffs and defendants by allowing people to band together in one single case. This makes it easier to challenge large corporate defendants. The final decision of the court will bind each of the class members, subject to each member’s right to opt out. Moreover, in most situations, individual plaintiffs involved in a class action would have never brought such a suit, since the recovery of damages would be insufficient to offset the significant legal costs.

Some examples of the type of claims that may qualify for a class action lawsuit include defective products, securities, nuisance, environment cases, false advertising and shoddy products and negligence.

One or more individuals (“representative plaintiffs”) represent the rest of the class. A class member does not have to be a named plaintiff to benefit from a successful class action. Because  the rest of the class does not have a day to day say in how the class action is run the court supervises and must approve all steps in the action, including any settlement and amount of legal fees.

There are numerous advantages to initiating a class action or participating as a class member. For one, there is no cost to the plaintiff, since your Canadian class action lawyer only gets paid a percentage of the fees awarded if the case is successfully litigated.

If you think you may be a member of one of our class actions or if you may need an experienced Canadian class action lawyer for a suit anywhere in Canada please contact Bruce Lemer.