Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

“Ottawa may sue U.S. gun makers”

Raising the question: did we do this during Prohibition to Canada’s whisky distillers, when their products flooded into this country across both land and water borders? And if we didn’t sue, could there be a lesson in that about the need for nations to respect each others’ sovereignty?

Canada is looking into ways to sue U.S. gun manufacturers for the spread of illegal weapons into this country, the Toronto Star has learned….

The policy will also be seen as another shot by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government across the bow of Canada-U.S. relations.

Government sources told the Star yesterday that Canada will be looking into “every legal option” to stem a tide of crimes involving weapons that make their way into this country illegally from the United States, whether they’re sold through the Internet or smuggled across the border.

That includes possible suits against U.S. manufacturers, launched either in the United States or in this country if the firm has assets here as well, the sources said. Though no precise estimates are available, Toronto police have said repeatedly that almost half the gun crimes committed in Canada involved illegal, U.S. weapons.

(Susan Delacourt and Les Whittington, Toronto Star, Oct. 22 (reg))

Canada high court OKs tobacco-recoupment suits

The Supreme Court of Canada has unanimously upheld a law enacted by the province of British Columbia which announces a retroactive right to recoup from tobacco companies money spent on illnesses due to smoking. (commentary: Edmonton Sun, Ezra Levant). Canada thus becomes the first country to emulate the principle announced by state attorneys general in the U.S., which culminated in the notorious $246 billion state-tobacco settlement. As parents used to say: if you saw your friend jump off a cliff, would you do that too? (cross-posted from Point of Law)

Canada: “truth and reconciliation” panel for lawyers’ image?

“Fed-up with jokes that unfairly typecast them as ambulance-chasers or worse, Canada’s lawyers are considering drastic means to rehabilitate their image, including striking a truth and reconciliation task force to find out why they ‘can’t get no respect’ from the public.” Truth and reconciliation commissions came to prominence as an innovation employed in countries such as South Africa seeking to overcome highly repressive or acrimonious national pasts. Halifax lawyer Robert Patzelt, who chairs a Canadian Bar Association committee looking into the idea, said “it may be necessary to accept that the profession is far from perfect and that it may, to some extent, have contributed to some of its own image problems.” All talk of “truth commissions” aside, that last bit sure sounds like progress to us — and a decided improvement over the circle-the-wagons reaction to criticism so often adopted by organized lawyerdom in the U.S. (Cristin Schmitz, “Objection! Lawyers lament poor public image”, CanWest/Montreal Gazette, Aug. 16).

Unisex pricing reaches Ontario

A ban on the charging of different prices for men’s and women’s services, a bad idea already enacted in California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Miami and New York City, may soon be the law in Ontario if pending legislation is approved. One supporter thinks it’s unfair for hairdressers to charge more for women’s cuts than men’s, and it’s apparently beside the point that most women’s cuts are more complicated and take longer to perform. Ditto with women’s clothes at dry cleaners, which are less standardized and more likely to require individualized handling. Of course many discounts run in favor of women purchasers, most notably auto insurance for younger drivers; no word on whether Ontario legislators are hoping to defy actuarial realities on that front. (Christl Dabu, “For Canadian women, that haircut may soon get cheaper”, Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 10 — note the headline, whose counter-version about haircuts for men getting more expensive probably never stood a chance of running). For reports on legal action aimed at bar’s “Ladies’ Night” promotions, see Aug. 4, 2003 and Jun. 10, 2004.

“Hockey mom wants daughter allowed in boys’ change room”

In Lumby, British Columbia, soccer mom Jane Emlyn is pursuing a complaint with the province’s Human Rights Tribunal saying “female minor hockey players’ rights are violated when they’re forced to use separate changing rooms.”

According to Al Berg, a member of the B.C. association’s coaching committee, the policy was introduced in January 2001 by Hockey Canada, after a Human Rights Commission mediation session in Ontario. It states players over the age of 11 of different gender are not allowed to change in the same room at the same time. The policy came as a result of increased female participation on integrated teams.

Ms. Emlyn, whose 14-year-old daughter Jewel plays on the Lumby Stars with two other girls, says a more gender-equitable policy would be to separate the sexes only for actual showering; at other times the boys would stay in boxer shorts and the girls in equivalent top-and-bottom skivvies. “A similar policy was introduced in New Brunswick last October, after the Human Rights Commission ruled a 14-year-old female player had her rights violated when she was forced to change separately.” According to Ms. Emlyn, “most of the youngsters on the team say they’re fine with mixed changing rooms”. (Lori-Anne Charlton, Vancouver Province/, Jul. 11).

10-year-old’s hockey demotion

…results in courtroom commotion in Mississauga, Ont., Canada. (“Boy, 10, sues hockey association over demotion”, CBC News, Jun. 19; “Hockey lawsuit put off until fall”, Mississauga News, Jun. 24). Brendan Butrimas allegedly got booted from the Applewood Hockey Association because of conflicts between his father and officials. His family says the C$10,000 suit is — had you guessed? — Not About The Money. “It’s not a money grab. This is a case to protect the rights of children,” said attorney Harry Kopyto, the family’s legal agent. (“Boy sues over fight between his father and hockey league”, CP/Globe and Mail, Jun. 19). (Corrected Nov. 27 to specify standing of family’s legal agent; a reader writes in to say that Kopyto was disbarred by Ontario legal authorities but “is allowed to appear as an agent/paralegal in Small Claims Court”.)

Payne Stewart air crash verdict

After golfer Payne Stewart and several others were killed in a 1999 plane crash, Stewart’s survivors sued a list of defendants starting with the aircraft’s owner and its operator; perhaps the deepest pocket sued was that of Canadian-owned Learjet, which stood its ground, took the case to trial and was entirely vindicated by a jury last week. (“Jurors clear Learjet in Payne Stewart crash”, AP/FoxSports, Jun. 10; “Payne Stewart family sue over air crash”, GolfToday (U.K.), undated 2000). DropZone has a comment thread which includes a discussion of the practice of suing multiple defendants after air crashes (and then working up theories against them individually as needed) and also includes some jaded comment about Instance #785,423 of It Not Being About The Money:

Tracey Stewart, her teenage son and college-aged daughter and Fraley’s widow, Dixie Fraley Keller, said through a statement that “their hope in this effort was to make air travel safer …”

“They brought this litigation not because of money in any capacity; it was always about responsibility,” said attorney Gregory McNeill.

The suit had demanded $200 million.

BlackBerry squeezed

The Canadian maker of the wireless email device in March agreed to pay $450 million to settle the claims of NTP, a company which manufactures nothing and instead makes its way in the world by asserting rights in old patents. Not all is sweetness and light, however: “Critics of the patent system maintain that these companies — called ‘patent trolls’ by their detractors — rely on excessively broad patents, particularly for software, that should never have been granted in the first place.” For more on the controversy over patent-licensing firms, see various posts on our technology and intellectual property page. (Ian Austen and Lisa Guernsey, “A Payday for Patents ‘R’ Us”, New York Times, May 2).

Trauma from seeing bottled fly: C$340,000

Neither Waddah (Martin) Mustapha, of Windsor, Ontario nor his wife Lynn consumed the dead fly they found in a bottle of Culligan bottled water, nor did they drink any of the water that had come in contact with it, since they discovered the fly before opening the bottle. They were so traumatized, however, that a court has just applied the calamine of cash to their psychic wounds to the extent of a third of a million dollars (Canadian). Mr. Mustapha, a hairstylist, said he had nightmares and lost sleep after the fly incident; he “also testified that he lost his sense of humour and became argumentative and edgy,” among other ill consequences. Let’s hope the couple never goes on a picnic. (Chris Thompson, “Man wins $340,000 in bottled fly lawsuit”, Windsor Star, Apr. 23). Update Feb. 17, 2007: appeals court reverses judgment and awards $30K in costs to defendant Culligan; May 23, 2008: Supreme Court upholds Culligan win.