Arati Rani Das, et al. v. George Weston Limited, et al.
(Ont.) (Civil) (By Leave)
Torts - Negligence - Torts — Negligence — Conflict of laws — Building in Bangladesh collapsed due to significant structural flaws, killing and injuring thousands of factory workers making garments for international export — Applicants, who are injured workers or family members of the injured and deceased workers, commenced a class action in Ontario against respondents for damages suffered by those killed or injured by applying the class actions law of Ontario — Lower courts finding law of Bangladesh applies here and dismissing action — What substantive law applies to transnational negligence and vicarious liability claims — How do principles of negligence and vicarious liability apply to Canadian corporations’ multijurisdictional activities and any harm that results.
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On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed due to significant structural flaws, killing and injuring thousands of factory workers making garments for international export including Joe Fresh Apparel Canada Inc., a brand owned and controlled by Loblaws Companies Limited.
The applicants, who are comprised of injured workers or family members of the injured and deceased workers, commenced a class action in Ontario against the respondents, George Weston Ltd., Loblaw Companies Ltd., Loblaws Inc., and Joe Fresh Apparel Canada Inc. (collectively Loblaws) and the respondent Bureau Veritas, a company Loblaws had contracted to conduct a limited audit of the premises where the garments were manufactured. The applicants sought to hold the two companies responsible for the damages suffered by everyone who was killed or injured in the collapse by applying the class actions law of Ontario.
After the applicants moved for certification, Loblaws and Bureau Veritas brought motions under Rule 21of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, to dismiss the action on the basis that it is plain and obvious that it cannot succeed.
The motion judge dismissed the action concluding that the substantive law of Bangladesh applied to the class members’ claims, the claims were statute barred under Bangladesh’s Limitation Act, 1908 (save for the claims of class members born on or after April 22, 1996) and it was plain and obvious that the claims could not succeed. Since there were no legally viable claims, he refused to certify the class action and granted the respondents’ motions to dismiss the action.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the motion judge’s conclusions on the merits of the case and dismissed the appeal but reduced the cost award.
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