Environmental Class Actions

Many class action lawsuits in Canada and the United States involve the adverse effects of damage to the environment.

Advancing such claims starts with a thorough understanding of how individuals have been affected by the environmental hazard. It proceeds to identifying the precise common harm they have suffered. It's a complex research job that pulls together science, technology and environmental law.

Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan LLP has the experience to identify and pursue potential environmental class actions. If you would like to meet with us and learn more about our experience in environmental cases, please contact us online to arrange a meeting at our offices in Toronto or Vaughan, or give us a call at 416‑599‑7900.

Bringing Class Action Lawsuits For Pollution, Water Quality, Toxic Emissions and Nuisance

Class actions can be brought on the basis of any number of environmental harms. The challenge is to establish the commonalities among potential claimants. Without proof of the common issues, the court will not certify a class. In Ontario, claims of commonality must be precise:

  • Certification Refused: In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to certify a class of 30,000 individuals who claimed damages as a result of landfill odours near Maple, Ontario, in the case of Hollick v. The City Of Toronto (2001), 205 D.L.R. (4th) 19 (S.C.C.). Among the reasons for refusing certification was the fact that not all potential class members lived the same distance from the site and therefore had different levels of exposure.
  • Certification Allowed: In 2005, the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed certification of a class as a result of nickel contamination, but only for damages related to reduction in property values and not for alleged adverse health effects: Pearson v. Inco. Ltd. (2005), 261 D.L.R. (4th) 629 (Ont. C.A.). The court stated that the individual claims related to health would dwarf the common issues advanced by the class and were therefore inappropriate for a class proceeding.
  • Recent Decisions: In the early December 2013 decision, Canada v. MacQueen, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal reinforced the difficulties involved in bringing environmental class actions when it overturned the certification of a class action against the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canadian relating to damages allegedly caused by the operation of a steelworks for nearly 100 years in Sydney, Nova Scotia. See also, to similar effect, Windsor v. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

The hurdle of class certification in large-scale environmental claims — in cases such as spills, contamination and other environmental hazards — is just one reason that experienced class action lawyers are important; we know what it takes for a claim to proceed. Stevenson Whelton MacDonald & Swan LLP is a respected law firm of seasoned litigators with an expansive personal injury, civil and commercial litigation practice in Ontario. We know what it takes to make a claim, to establish commonality and to prepare your claim for successful certification.

Lawyers For Environmental Damage Claims

To learn more about our ongoing cases, please visit our Active Class Actions page. For more information about potential environmental class actions our lawyers may be able to assist with, contact us at 416‑599‑7900 in Toronto or reach us online to schedule a consultation.