|Date Announced:||July 05, 2017|
|Date Closed:||July 12, 2017|
|Client Name:||Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc.|
In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 workers. A proposed class action was commenced in Ontario in 2015 against Loblaws Companies Ltd. and related entities, one of which had sourced garments from a factory in Rana Plaza under the Joe Fresh brand, and three Bureau Veritas entities, one of which had been retained by Loblaws to perform limited "social audits" of one factory in Rana Plaza. The claim alleged that the defendants had been obligated to prevent the tragedy.
The plaintiffs moved to certify the proceeding as a class action. The defendants brought cross-motions to strike out the action as barred by a limitation period under Bangladesh law and as failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action under both Bangladesh law and, alternatively, Ontario law (among other relief sought). These motions were heard by Justice Perell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in a 10-day hearing in April 2017.
Justice Perell released his motions decision on July 5, 2017. He dismissed the certification motion and entire action. He found the action was governed by Bangladesh substantive law, which contained a one-year limitation period barring the claims, except as against any minors in the proposed class. He also found the statement of claim did not disclose a reasonable cause of action under Bangladesh tort (and other) law, which had been presented to the court through extensive expert evidence. Alternatively, Justice Perell found the statement of claim did not disclose a reasonable cause of action under Ontario law, focusing on the lack of proximity between the defendants and the proposed class members. Justice Perell dismissed the certification motion, given the absence of a reasonable cause of action.
Bennett Jones represented Bureau Veritas Consumer Products Services, Inc. (three of six defendants) with a team including Mike Eizenga, Ranjan Agarwal, Gannon Beaulne and Ethan Schiff.