Class action lawsuits are an essential part of the judicial system, providing a practical and cost-effective way for large groups of people, often referred to as “the class,” to seek justice and compensation when they have been harmed by a common defendant or defendants. These lawsuits are essential tools for several reasons, not least of which is the access to justice they provide—particularly in instances where individual litigation would be impractical or too expensive.
Additionally, class action lawsuits often hold large entities accountable for their harmful and negligent actions. This is something that might seem impossible for a single plaintiff. Together, a class of plaintiffs has more power and resources to stand up against the at-fault entity. This sets an example for other potential wrongdoers, discouraging them from behaving similarly in the future.
Klein Lawyers has decades of experience bringing class action lawsuits. Please see a list of our current cases. If you believe you have a claim, contact us at (604) 874-7171 for a FREE case evaluation. Together we can make a difference.
How Do Class Action Lawsuits Have a Greater Impact?
The importance of class action lawsuits is multifaceted. They provide a means for individuals who have experienced a common harm to seek relief. By grouping these claims together, class actions increase efficiency in the judicial system and help ensure that courts are not overwhelmed with hundreds or even thousands of similar individual lawsuits.
A class action lawsuit may seek to address an imbalance of power or resources between individuals and larger entities, such as corporations or governments. In many cases, the cost and complexity of litigation could discourage individuals from seeking redress for their grievances. Class actions allow these individuals to pool their resources and litigate on more equal footing with well-resourced defendants.
Class actions often have broader societal implications. They can bring widespread attention to questionable practices or systemic issues and lead to changes in laws, regulations, and industry practices. They also serve as a deterrent, signalling to other potential wrongdoers that harmful actions will not be tolerated by our justice system.
Read More: Understanding Class Actions in Canada
Canadian Class Action Lawsuits with Impact
There are several Canadian class action lawsuits that highlight the importance and broader implications of these types of legal actions.
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement
Arguably one of the most significant class actions in Canadian history, the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement addressed the cultural, emotional, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse suffered by the 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed from their families to attend federally funded and church-run schools.
The settlement awarded survivors financial compensation, funded a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and led to a formal apology from the Canadian government. This case has had profound social and political repercussions and highlighted the importance of class actions in addressing systemic wrongs.
The Hepatitis C Settlement
This class action lawsuit was brought against the Canadian federal government and several provincial governments on behalf of individuals who contracted Hepatitis C from tainted blood transfusions between 1986 and 1990. The governments agreed to a $1.1 billion settlement in 1999. This class action brought attention to a significant public health crisis and has had far-reaching implications for health and safety standards in the Canadian healthcare system.
The Volkswagen Emissions Settlement
In the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, where Volkswagen was found to have installed software or “defeat devices” in vehicles to cheat emission tests, a class action lawsuit was launched in Canada. The lawsuit resulted in a 2018 settlement in the Canadian courts of $290 million.
This case provided restitution to car owners affected by the recall of their vehicles. It also sent a clear message about corporate accountability and the need for truthful environmental reporting.
RCMP Harassment, Abuse, & Discrimination Settlement
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Harassment, Abuse & Discrimination class action lawsuits involved over 44,000 claimants and addressed systemic sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination suffered by female officers, non-policing staff, and volunteers at the hands of their male coworkers. The landmark cases led to settlements totaling $250 million.
These class action lawsuits marked significant milestones in Canadian employment law and women’s rights. They provided monetary compensation and facilitated a dialogue about gender equality and safe workplaces, stressing the urgent need for institutional changes to eradicate harmful practices and making it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Furthermore, these cases served to empower other individuals experiencing similar situations to come forward.
Vitamin Price Fixing Settlement
This class action lawsuit addressed the price fixing of vitamins by 15 multinational manufacturers between 1986 and 1999. The lawsuit was settled in 2005 for $132 million.
This was a groundbreaking case in Canadian consumer protection law. It shone a light on the unethical practice of price fixing, which occurs when competing businesses agree to raise or lower prices instead of the free market being allowed to determine the product’s value. Price fixing reduces competition, making consumers generally pay more than they should.
While the compensation to affected consumers and organizations may seem nominal, the financial burden on the companies involved and the societal impact were significant. The decision urged greater transparency, fairness, and competition in the marketplace, all of which are essential for consumer protection.
Read More: How to File a Class Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits serve crucial functions within the legal landscape. They enhance access to justice, help level the playing field between individuals and powerful entities, promote transparency, and often contribute to wider societal change. They act as critical checks on power and play a significant role in upholding the principles of justice. They remind us that no one, regardless of their size or influence, is above the law.
Consult a Lawyer Practiced in Class Action Lawsuits
Klein Lawyers has vast experience representing clients in class action lawsuits. We are considered one of the country’s leading class action firms. If you are interested in joining a current class action, referring a client, or you believe you have a lawsuit, contact us for a FREE case evaluation. We represent clients in Vancouver, Toronto, and across Canada.