Leonard and Ranniger v. Manulife Financial Corporation and others : settlement reached subject to approval of courts

This is a class action in British Columbia and Ontario alleging that a large mortgage life and disability insurance business (covering debt payments in the event of death or disability) was subcontracted by Manulife to an unlicensed company, Benesure, that did not comply with government regulation, had inadequately trained representatives, charged the insureds too much for coverage offered and provided inadequate client service. Also, it is alleged the defendants shared confidential information through a computer system operated by Davis and Henderson for marketing purposes in breach of their clients’ privacy rights. The parties have reached a settlement subject to approval of courts in British Columbia and Ontario. The proposed settlement is for $4,250,000 plus taxes on class counsel fees and plaintiffs’ counsel disbursements. The net proceeds after payment of class counsel fees will be given to non-profit organizations that would further financial education, financial consumer causes and related charitable purposes in Canada.

The British Columbia Supreme Court will be hearing an application for consent certification of this action and approval of the settlement and class counsel fees on August 31, 2020. A copy of the B.C. Supreme Court notice of the hearing to the class members is as follows:

“Notice of Settlement Approval Hearing and of Proposed Discontinuance


Read this notice carefully as it may affect your rights.


All persons, excluding certain persons associated with the Defendants, who are residents of Canada, except residents of Quebec, who:
a) purchased the Mortgage Protection Plan or the Credit Security Plan mortgage creditor insurance product (from January 1, 1995 to April 9, 2020); or
b) had their personal information transmitted to any of the Manulife Defendants (from January 1, 1995 to April 9, 2020) in the course of seeking mortgage or other home financing; or
c) received from the Manulife Defendants a Safety Catch Letter, i.e. a letter sent on behalf of a mortgage broker which encouraged a Class Member to arrange some form of mortgage insurance (from January 1, 2003 to April 9, 2020),
(collectively, the “Class” or “Class Members”).

On or about February 20, 2013, a proposed class action was commenced against Manulife Financial Corporation, The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, Benesure Canada Inc., Broker Support Centre Inc., Credit Security Insurance Agency (the “Manulife Defendants”), Tacamor Holdings Inc., Davis + Henderson Limited Partnership (now DH Corporation) and John F. Lorriman (together, the “Defendants”) in the B.C. Supreme Court, Leonard et al. v. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company et al., (Supreme Court of British Columbia, Vancouver Registry, No. S-131263) (the “B.C. Class Action”).

On or about February 26, 2013, a proposed class action was commenced against the Defendants in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Di Paolo et al. v. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company et al., (Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, File No. CV-13-475050-00CP) (the “Ontario Class Action” and together with the B.C. Class Action, the “Class Action Proceedings”).
In the B.C. Class Action, the plaintiffs allege that the Defendants breached the Class Members’ privacy and engaged in other unlawful activities related to the sale and distribution of mortgage creditor insurance. Substantially similar allegations have been made in the Ontario Class Action.

The parties have reached a proposed settlement of the Class Action Proceedings, without an admission of liability on the part of the Defendants, subject to approval by the B.C. Court. This notice provides a summary of the proposed settlement.


The Defendants will pay $4.250 million in full and final settlement of all claims against them in the Class Action Proceedings, and the B.C. Class Action shall be dismissed against all defendants and the Ontario Proceeding shall be discontinued. The settlement, less class counsel’s fees, if approved by the B.C. Court, will be paid for the benefit of the Class to ABC Life Literacy Canada, Prosper Canada and the Law Foundation of British Columbia. There will be no distribution to the Class. For more information about ABC Life Literacy Canada, please visit www.abclifeliteracy.ca for more information about Prosper Canada, please visit prospercanada.org and for more information about the Law Foundation of British Columbia, please visit http://www.lawfoundationbc.org. The Settlement Agreement may be reviewed at https://www.brucelemer.com/manulifesettlement/.

When they were originally started, the B.C. Class Action covered Class Members who were resident in B.C. and the Ontario Class Action covered Class Members who were resident in Canada other than in B.C. and Québec. As part of the settlement, the Plaintiffs and the Defendants are proposing that Class Members who were originally within the definition of the class in the Ontario Class Action will be covered by the Class in the B.C. Class Action.

The Defendants and various related parties will be released by the Class and various related parties from all claims in the Class Action Proceedings (as set out in further detail in the Settlement Agreement). A number of substantially similar proposed class actions were started in other Canadian jurisdictions (Benmouffok and Bourbonnais v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Company et al. (Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, File No. 17-73294CP), Stringer v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Company et al. (Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, File No. QBG No. 778/15) and Patrick Ehouzou, et al. v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (Superior Court of Québec, No. 500-06-000874-178/Québec Court of Appeal, No. 500-09-028397-198)). This Settlement Agreement would include the Class and various related parties releasing the Defendants and various related parties from these actions. The Defendants intend to ask the courts in all those jurisdictions except Quebec to dismiss or stay these other actions on the basis of this Settlement Agreement including the releases it contains.


The B.C. Court will be asked to certify the B.C. Class Action as a class proceeding on behalf of the Class (i.e. all Canadian residents within the class definition above) for settlement purposes and approve the proposed settlement and class counsel’s fees, disbursements and taxes at a hearing to be held on August 31, 2020 at 10 a.m. at the court house at 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, British Columbia over three days (August 31, 2020 to September 2, 2020).

If the proposed settlement is approved by the B.C. Court, the parties intend to ask the Ontario Court to approve the discontinuance of the Ontario Class Action at a hearing to be scheduled.
Class Members who do not oppose the proposed settlement are not required to appear at the approval hearing or take any other action at this time. Class Members who consider it desirable or necessary to seek the advice and guidance of their own lawyers may do so at their own expense.


At the approval hearing, the B.C. Court will consider any objections to the proposed settlement by the Class Members if the objections are submitted in writing, by prepaid mail, fax or e-mail to either of the class members’ lawyers addresses below. Written objections must be received no later than 10 days before the approval hearing.
A written objection should include the following information:
(a) the objector’s name, current mailing address, telephone number, fax number and email address;
(b) the reason why the objector believes that they are a Class Member;
(c) a brief statement of the nature of and reasons for the objection; and
(d) whether the objector intends to appear at the hearing in person or by counsel, and, if by counsel, the name, address, telephone number, fax number and email address of counsel.


Questions for the class members’ lawyers may be directed to:

Lemer & Company
210-900 Howe St.
Vancouver BC
V6Z 2M4
Attn: Bruce Lemer
Phone: 778-383-7277
Fax: 778-383-7278

McEwan Cooper Dennis LLP 900-980 Howe Street
Vancouver BC V6Z 0C8
Attn: Robert Cooper
Phone: 604.283.7740
Fax: 778.300.9393 rcooper@mcewanpartners.com

This notice has been approved by the B.C. Court. Questions about matters
in this notice should NOT be directed to the Court.”