Canada appeals court upholds landmark tobacco ruling

Imperial Tobacco spokesman Eric Gagnon speaks to the media after the Quebec Court of Appeal's decision to uphold a Superior Court ruling in two class-action lawsuits against three tobacco companies, Friday, March 1, 2019, in Montreal. (AP)
Updated 02 March 2019

Canada appeals court upholds landmark tobacco ruling

MONTREAL: Quebec’s appeals court on Friday upheld a historic ruling ordering three tobacco firms to pay Can$15.5 billion ($11.6 billion) to smokers in the Canadian province who claimed they were never warned about the health risks associated with smoking.
Imperial Tobacco Canada, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald have one month to launch an eventual appeal before Canada’s Supreme Court.
In June 2015, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that the three companies should pay the whopping amount to tens of thousands of smokers suffering from emphysema, lung cancer or throat cancer.
According to media reports, accruing interest will bring the final amount to more than Can$17 billion.
The two class action lawsuits behind the award, which were originally filed in 1998, affected nearly one million smokers or ex-smokers, some of whom had been consuming tobacco since the 1960s. The trial only began in March 2012.
“We are disappointed with today’s decision,” Imperial Tobacco Canada spokesman Eric Gagnon told reporters. “As the ruling in the lower court showed, Canadian consumers know the risks associated with tobacco use. We should not be held responsible.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs meanwhile celebrated the “historic” ruling, going so far as to call it a “masterpiece.”
“The ruling reached the same conclusions as did the lower court, solidifies them and confirms that the companies conspired for 50 years to lie to the public,” one of the attorneys, Andre L’Esperance, told journalists.
“This is a total victory, on all fronts,” added his colleague Philippe Trudel.
The lower court had ruled that the companies failed in their general duty “not to cause injury to another person” and to inform their customers of the risks associated with their products.


Ethiopia’s week of unrest sees 239 dead, 3,500 arrested

Updated 08 July 2020

Ethiopia’s week of unrest sees 239 dead, 3,500 arrested

  • Hachalu Hundessa had been a rallying voice in anti-government protests that led to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking power in 2018
  • PM Abiy swiftly introduced political reforms that also opened the way for long-held ethnic and other grievances in Africa’s second most populous country

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: At least 239 people have been killed and 3,500 arrested in more than a week of unrest in Ethiopia that poses the biggest challenge yet to its Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister.
In the Oromia region, the toll includes 215 civilians along with nine police officers and five militia members, regional police commissioner Mustafa Kedir told the ruling party-affiliated Walta TV on Wednesday.
Officials earlier said 10 people were killed in the capital, Addis Ababa, eight of them civilians, amid outrage after a popular singer was shot dead last Monday.
Hachalu Hundessa had been a rallying voice in anti-government protests that led to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking power in 2018. Abiy swiftly introduced political reforms that also opened the way for long-held ethnic and other grievances in Africa’s second most populous country.
The military was deployed during the outrage that followed Hachalu’s death.
In remarks last week while wearing a military uniform, Abiy said dissidents he recently extended an offer of peace had “taken up arms” in revolt against the government. He hinted there could be links between this unrest and the killing of the army chief last year as well as the grenade thrown at one of his own rallies in 2018.
The 3,500 arrests have included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. The Oromo make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group but had never held the country’s top post until they helped bring Abiy to power.
Local reports have said that in some places ethnic Oromo have attacked ethnic Amhara, and in Shashamane town some people were going home to home checking identity cards and targeting Amhara residents.
Businesses have now begun opening slowly in Oromia after the violence in which several hundred homes in Ethiopia were burned or damaged.
But Ethiopia’s Internet service remains cut, making it difficult for rights monitor and others to track the scores of killings.