In its recent appeal decision in Ramdath v. George Brown
College of Applied Arts and Technology, the Ontario Court of
Appeal provided clarity on section 24 of Ontario's Class
Proceedings Act.1 The lower court decision
marked the first award of aggregate damages at trial under section
24 of the Class Proceedings Act in Ontario. Glenn Zakaib
wrote about the lower court's decision
The concept of "aggregate damages" refers to the
court's ability to determine monetary damages at a class-wide
level based on the total monetary damage caused by the
defendant's wrongdoing. The individual class members'
entitlement to a share of the aggregate award is left to be
Section 24 of the Class Proceedings Act allows the
Court to assess and award aggregate damages where:
a) monetary relief is claimed on
behalf of some or all class members;
b) no questions of fact or law other
than those relating to the assessment of monetary relief remain to
be determined in order to establish the amount of the
defendant's monetary liability; and
c) the aggregate or a part of the
defendant's liability to some or all class members can
reasonably be determined without proof by individual class
While not a product liability case, Ramdath will have
an impact on all areas of class action litigation.
Background to the Case
Ramdath is a class action commenced by students
enrolled in a post-graduate program in International Business
Management at George Brown College. The class action arises from a
statement in the school's course calendar stating that
graduates would have the "opportunity to complete three
industry designations/certifications" in addition to a
graduate certificate. In reality, the court found that students
were required to complete additional courses and/or work experience
as well as exams at their own expense in order to fulfill the
requirements for the industry designations.
The Lower Court Decision
The students commenced a class action against George Brown for
negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and breaches of
Ontario's Consumer Protection Act and sought an award
of aggregate damages against the school under the Class
Proceedings Act. The class was comprised of three cohorts of
The class action proceeded in stages: the certification stage; a
common issues trial in which George Brown was found to have made
negligent misrepresentations and breached the Consumer
Protection Act, and, finally, the damages trial.
At the damages trial, the main issue was whether, and to what
extent, the class should be awarded aggregate damages. The Court
ultimately awarded aggregate damages for the statutory cause of
action under the Consumer Protection Act, but removed the
third cohort of students from the class.
George Brown appealed the aggregate damages award and the
plaintiffs appealed the changes to the class composition. The Court
of Appeal ultimately affirmed the aggregate damages award,
reinstated the third cohort and referred the assessment of damages
for the third cohort back to the trial judge.
Key Take-Away Principles
The Court of Appeal decision in Ramdath provides four
key take-aways on aggregate damages that are applicable across all
class-actions, including those related to product liability:
1. Damages in a class proceeding can be assessed
on an aggregate, class-wide basis and not merely on an individual
2. Aggregate damages are desirable where the criteria
under section 24 of the Class Proceedings Act are met in
order to make class actions an effective instrument to provide
access to justice.
3. A determination of aggregate liability is assessed on
a 'reasonableness' standard, determined by:
a. whether the
non-individualized evidence presented by the plaintiff is
b. whether use of the
evidence will result in unfairness or injustice to the defendant,
such as overstatement of its liability; and
c. whether the denial of
an aggregate approach will result in a "wrong eluding an
effective remedy" and a denial of access to justice.
4. Even if the quantification of damages is not an
originally certified common issue, a trial judge has discretion to
invoke the aggregates damages provision after finding
While it remains to be seen whether and to what extent aggregate
damages may be appropriate in product liability class actions, the
Court of Appeal's approval of the lower court's finding in
Ramdath will likely encourage plaintiffs to seek such
awards in future cases.
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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