Three tobacco companies are appealing against a ‘historic’ decision by a Canadian court to award smokers C$15.6bn (£8.2bn) in damages.
Quebec superior court justice Brian Riordan said the companies had put profits before the health of their customers – as he issued his long-awaited decision in what is thought to be Canada’s largest class-action lawsuit.
Bruce Johnston – a lawyer with one of the firms that took on the tobacco companies – called the ruling ‘historic – not just for the compensation for victims but also for public health and accountability’.
Riordan found for the plaintiffs in a scathing judgment against three tobacco companies – Imperial Tobacco Canada- a subsidiary of British American Tobacco – Rothmans – Benson & Hedges – a subsidiary of Philip Morris – and JTI Macdonald Ltd – part of Japan Tobacco.
‘The companies earned billions of dollars at the expense of the lungs, the throats and the general well-being of their customers’ he wrote in a 276-page judgment. ‘If the companies are allowed to walk away unscathed now – what would be the message to other industries that today or tomorrow find themselves in a similar moral conflict?’