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Product Liability and Mass Torts

Product liability and mass tort claims are among the most serious challenges an organization can face.

When the survival of a brand or a business hangs in the balance, the world’s leading companies turn to McCarthy Tétrault. We help our clients navigate their most complex product liability and mass tort challenges from start to finish.

We act for companies in a wide range of matters and industries, including medical products and devices, consumer products and services, transportation and automotive products, toxic chemical and environmental matters, and catastrophic events.

Our deep bench strength and expertise across Canada allows us to handle both local litigation and matters with national and/or international scopes. We frequently act as national coordinating counsel in “bet-the-company” litigation involving class actions in multiple Canadian provinces, as well as inventory litigation involving many individual claims across the country.

We work closely with our clients and their legal counsel in other jurisdictions to define and implement a strategy for success from day one. Our litigators have unparalleled courtroom experience with an impressive track record in class actions. We have conducted trials of more tort claims than any comparable firm in the country. With the leverage of our expertise and courtroom success, we are also experienced in sitting down with all parties and brokering creative solutions to achieve victories for our clients outside the courtroom, including in collaboration with our restructuring partners as required.

We will work with your internal team and external advisers to protect your reputation throughout the litigation process. Our firm’s integrated, industry-focused approach allows us to anticipate issues and help prevent and contain product liability and mass tort lawsuits before they begin.

Representative Matters

Some of our representative engagements include:

Pharmaceutical Products:

  • Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie in national Androgel litigation, winning the first pharmaceutical class action to be defeated on summary judgment in Canada
  • Abbott Laboratories in its successful defence of the first pharmaceutical common issues trial in Canada relating to allegations that Biaxin caused psychiatric side effects
  • Lundbeck A/S in defeating certification of a proposed national class action alleging that Celexa causes congenital malformations
  • AstraZeneca in its successful defeat of certification in a class action regarding Seroquel, the first contested class certification hearing for a prescription pharmaceutical medication in Ontario
  • Draxis Health in product liability class action against manufacturer and distributor of Parkinson’s drug Permax
  • Abbott Laboratories in its defence of class actions across Canada arising from opioid products
  • Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., Endo International plc and its Canadian subsidiary Paladin Labs in defence of multiple product liability class actions across Canada arising from opioid products, and related government healthcare cost recovery cases alleging hundreds of billions of dollars in damages
  • Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) in a product liability animal drug case
  • Laboratories Leon Farma in two proposed class actions in Ontario and British Columbia alleging defective Alysena birth control pills
  • Sanofi Consumer Health in its defence of ranitidine litigation, including multiple class actions and individual tort claims, alleging that Zantac® causes cancer or increased cancer risk, Abbott Laboratories in defeating certification of class actions in three Canadian provinces in relation to Meridia

Medical Products and Services:

  • Jude Medical in product liability class action and individual tort claims concerning defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy devices
  • Manufacturer of SureStep glucose monitoring device in a class action alleging defects in the product, including leading decision on waiver of tort
  • All Canadian provinces and territories in litigation arising from allegations that the Canadian blood supply was tainted by the Hepatitis C virus
  • Genzyme in defence of class actions and individual claims relating to surgical mesh for hernia repair
  • A physician in hundreds of individual actions relating to whether laboratory tests performed were reliable in cases involving child protection concerns
  • Psychiatrists in multiple individual actions relating to the use of LSD in the treatment of patients at a secure psychiatric facility

Consumer Products and Services:

  • Aurora Cannabis Inc. in a product liability claim alleging the potency of their products is “drastically different” than advertised and the company failed to properly label products
  • FitFlop in class actions in Ontario and Quebec alleging that footwear failed to deliver claimed product benefits
  • JUUL Labs Canada Ltd. and JUUL Labs, Inc. in product liability class actions in British Columbia, Ontario and in Quebec involving allegations of failure to warn, misrepresentation and deceptive marketing
  • Kimberly-Clark in defence of a proposed class action in relation to its flushable wipes product that were recalled due to the presence of a bacterium
  • Masco Corporation and Behr Process Corp. in defending two product liability class actions commenced in Ontario related to alleged defects in Behr’s DeckOver products
  • Philip Morris International and its Canadian subsidiary Rothmans, Benson & Hedges in their defence of all Canadian smoking and health litigation. These cases involve consumer class actions and government healthcare cost recovery cases in every Canadian jurisdiction amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in alleged claims
  • Schering Plough in its successful defence of a proposed class action alleging statutory breaches of the Consumer Protection Act and other statutes for allegedly misleading consumers about sunscreen products
  • Smucker Foods of Canada in national consumer class action arising from contamination of Robin Hood flour, resulting in the complete dismissal of the action with no financial contribution by Smucker
  • Unilever in the defence of two putative national consumer class actions alleging economic loss and personal injury arising from a product ingredient, resulting in the complete dismissal of both actions with no financial contribution by Unilever
  • Abbott Laboratories in the defence of a class action alleging damages arising from contaminated Similac infant formula
  • Abbott Laboratories in the defence of a class action alleging that nutritional products for pre-term infants cause necrotizing enterocolitis

Transportation and Automotive:

  • Airbus in product liability class action arising from the crash of Air Canada Flight 624 at the Halifax International Airport
  • BMW in national product liability cases involving alleged product defects for “defeat devices”
  • Celanese Canada in successful claim for property damage and business interruption loss arising from negligence in relation to the siding of rail cars
  • Navistar International Corporation, Navistar Inc., and Navistar Canada ULC in numerous proposed class proceedings in five Canadian provinces regarding engine emissions systems
  • Takata Corporation, and its US subsidiaries, in multiple Canadian class actions concerning allegedly defective airbags
  • CN Rail in defence of a class action alleging liability for damages arising from the destruction of the village of Lytton, British Columbia by a wildfire
  • Trinity Industries Inc. and Trinity Rail Group LLC in its defence of a class action related to the Lac Mégantic, Quebec train derailment
  • Toyo Tires in numerous antitrust class actions, including the Anti-Vibration Rubber Parts claim


  • Compagnie d’Arrimage de Québec in successfully defence of an environmental contamination class action related to its operations at the Port of Quebec
  • Counsel for defendant in claim for damages allegedly arising from widespread property and environmental trichloroethylene contamination, resulting from consumer product manufacturing processes
  • Government of Ontario, defending allegations arising from the tainted water supply in the Town of Walkerton


  • Syngenta in a national class action regarding the introduction of a GMO corn variety on the market