An Ontario appellate court on February 21 upheld a landmark
decision denying certification of a product liability class
In the short oral decision in Martin v AstraZeneca
Pharmaceuticals, the Divisional Court of Ontario endorsed the
reasons and analysis of Madam Justice Horkins, a lower court judge
who had denied certification of a proposed class action involving
an anti-psychotic drug. A copy of our previous bulletin on this
case can be found
In reaching this conclusion, the Divisional Court disagreed with
the plaintiff's argument that the lower court judge had
inappropriately engaged in a detailed weighing of facts that was
not permissible at the certification stage. Instead, the Divisional
Court found that Justice Horkins had applied the correct legal test
when she concluded that the plaintiff had failed to plead
sufficient facts to support the allegations that the defendants had
failed to warn class members of risks associated with the drug and
had been negligent in the manufacture of it.
The Divisional Court's decision is an important endorsement
of the underlying case, which is one of the few cases in which
Canadian courts have refused to certify product liability class
actions. The Martin v AstraZeneca decision contains a
variety of important rulings on product labels, off-label use and
the treatment of causation at the certification stage, and the
decision not to interfere with the underlying decision is an
important development in relation to class actions in Canada.
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