MAC: Mines and Communities

Class Action Lawsuit against Inco reaches Court of Appeal

Published by MAC on 2004-09-21

Class Action Lawsuit against Inco reaches Court of Appeal: Ontario Court of Appeal agrees to review previous court decisions

Environmental Defence, Camda Press Release

September 21 2004

Toronto, Ontario - The Ontario Court of Appeal, the highest court in the province, has agreed to hear arguments to certify a class action lawsuit against Inco Limited. The class action lawsuit was launched in March 2001 by a resident of Port Colborne, Ontario on behalf of thousands of families whose properties are contaminated. Inco Limited is the sole remaining defendant in the $750 million lawsuit. The Ontario government, Region of Niagara, City of Port Colborne and the area s public and Catholic school boards have already settled out of court.

This is great news for the residents of Port Colborne, who refuse to give up their fight for environmental justice, said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence, a national group that has been working with the Port Colborne residents for three years. We applaud the residents for their determination to keep up with the lawsuit. It s been a long fight to get this far, and we re proud to be supporting them.

Elevated levels of nickel, likely in the form of nickel oxide which Health Canada has identified as a known human carcinogen, have polluted homes and parks in a neighbourhood surrounding Inco s Port Colborne refinery. Documents show that Inco and others appear to have known for years that the area was polluted, but failed to inform residents.

The lawsuit was first heard by an Ontario Superior Court Justice in June 2002, who declined to certify it as a class action. An appeal was heard by the Divisional Court in June 2003 which agreed with the lower court s ruling. The Ontario Court of Appeal is expected to hear the appeal for these decisions early in 2005. In granting permission to allow the appeal to be heard, the Court of Appeal disagreed with Inco s argument that this class action certification case does not deserve further consideration. This decision also opens the door to the possibility that the case may reach the Supreme Court of Canada

The plaintiff has always believed that a class action appears to be the best way to have the issues raised by this case addressed, said Eric Gillespie, Partner at Cunningham & Gillespie LLP, the law firm representing the individual. Our client is pleased that the Court of Appeal will have the opportunity to consider these issues again.


For more information, please contact: Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence,
(416) 323-9521 ext. 232;
(647) 280-9521 (cell)
Eric Gillespie, Cunningham & Gillespie LLP,
(416) 703-6362;
(905) 932-7258 (cell)

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