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mercredi 8 avril 2015

Suspending Class Action Proceedings Due to Lis Pendens

By Sarah D. Pinsonnault

In Parker c. Apotex Inc., 2015 QCCS 1210, the Petitioners had filed, on the same day, similar motions before both the Superior Court of Quebec and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta seeking the certification of a class action for all persons in Canada who purchased a generic birth control produced, manufactured, marketed, and distributed by the Respondents, Laboratorios Léon Farma (“Laboratorios”) and Apotex. Relying on article 3137 of the Civil Code of Québec (lis pendens), Laboratorios presented a motion requesting that the present matter be stayed until judgment is rendered on the certification in Alberta, arguing that the latter largely duplicates the proceedings brought against the Respondents in Quebec.

The Court began by listing the conditions for lis pendens found at article 3137 CCQ: there must be identity of the same parties, both recourses are based on the same facts and have the same object. Then, in using the discretion that article 3137 CCQ confers upon the Court, it decided to suspend the duplicative class action proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec:

“[7]         At this stage, the three identities are present. There is clearly identity of the material facts and of the object. Both recourses allege the same facts and ask for the same type of damages: compensatory, moral, and punitive or exemplary damages. Moreover, many of the allegations made and conclusions sought in the Quebec Class Action are very similar if not identical to the ones in the Alberta Class Action 

[…]

[8]         In addition, there is identity of the parties considering both recourses seek to represent the same members. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that legal identity of the parties, as opposed to physical identity, is what is required at the certification stage.

[9]         Therefore, the Court concludes there is apparent lis pendens between the Quebec Class Action and the Alberta Class Action.

[10]      Using its discretion found in Article 3137 C.C.Q., the Court considers it to be in the best interest of the Quebec members to suspend the Quebec Class Action for the following reasons:

− The hearing on certification of the Alberta Class Action is scheduled peremptorily for a period of 4 days, from June 15 to 18, 2015;

− As transpires from the transcript of a management conference in the Alberta Class Action held on February 12, 2015, the Court of Queen’s Bench intends to deal with this matter promptly;

− Given the great similarity between the two recourses, the parties should not invest time and costs in both jurisdictions;

− The principle of proportionality requires that the parties deal with only one recourse at this stage;

− The Alberta Class Action may result in a decision, which could be recognized in Quebec given the apparent lis pendens;

− The Quebec members will not suffer any prejudice since the Quebec Action is not dismissed but stayed

[11]      Finally, it is worth noting that Petitioners’ lawyer did not contest the Motion considering the representations of Laboratorios’ lawyers to proceed with the certification of a national class before the Queen’s Bench of Alberta. In this context, no costs will be awarded.” (references omitted)


To read this decision in its entirety, click here

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