BSE class action lawsuit dismissed by Ontario Superior Court of Justice

The judge ruled that Canada was in compliance with OIE guidelines
calendar icon 10 March 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

In 2005, a class action lawsuit was launched against the Government of Canada alleging that the Canadian government was negligent in keeping BSE out of Canada. According to a report by the Beef Farmers of Ontario, the lawsuit also alleged that Canada was negligent by failing to implement a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in 1990 when it brought in the import ban, or in 1994 when Canada ordered the destruction of the remaining UK imports, and finally, for failing to adequately monitor and prevent UK imports from entering the feed chain between 1990 and 1994.

The plaintiff sought damages in the amount of $8 billion in arising from losses suffered by Canadian cattle producers between 2003 and 2007.

After multiple delays, the lawsuit was finally heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2021, with Judge Paul B. Schabas using a decision on 28 January 2022.

In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge noted that Canada was not negligent, that it followed available science at the time, that it was aligned with US rules, and that it was in compliance with, or exceeded OIE guidelines around BSE.

The judge further noted that irrespective of his decision on negligence and the Canadian government's alleged liability to Canadian cattle producers, the complex expert evidence provided at the trial indicated that losses to cattle producers was $1.163 billion after BSE support payments to producers were factored in. Total losses were determined to be $5.419 billion. However, the Canadian government provided financial assistance payments during this period in the amount of $4.256.

Finally, the judge noted that "there should be no award for general or aggravated damages".

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