Understanding Class Actions

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The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing two class action cases launched against the three main tobacco companies in Canada: Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI MacDonald.

The first case asks for compensation for people addicted to nicotine in cigarettes.

The second asks for compensation for people suffering from lung, larynx or throat cancer and emphysema caused by tobacco.

Class actions let people who suffered similar harm form a group to make a single claim.

In this article, Éducaloi explains the ins-and-outs of class actions.

Strength in Numbers

A court case can take a lot of time and money. Sometimes, the amount one citizen could win on his or her own is too small given the time, effort and cost involved. The solution? Class actions.

Class actions bring together the claims of many people, claims that would be too difficult and expensive to bring one by one.

In class actions, one person acts as the representative of the group. The representative brings the case in the name of everyone in a similar situation.

Class actions can be brought for health problems as long as each member of the group suffered some harm personally.

They can also be brought for other kinds of harm caused by someone's fault, and for neighbourhood annoyances. Again, each member of the group must have suffered some harm.

Our video on class actions explains what to do if you think you might be covered by a class action already underway.