Mad-cow Class Action Gets Judge's Clearance

US - A $10-billion class action lawsuit targeting the federal government for economic losses caused by a devastating outbreak of mad-cow disease in 2003 has been given a green light to proceed.
calendar icon 8 September 2008
clock icon 1 minute read

Madam Justice Joan Lax of Ontario Superior Court permitted the class action yesterday by 115,000 cattle farmers to pass the all-important stage of legal certification, noting that the evidence they have amassed "speaks to the enormity of the economic consequences to cattle farmers from the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

"BSE was a catastrophic event for Canadian cattle farmers," Judge Lax added.

The case will proceed to trial unless the defendants elect to settle - as is commonly the case after a class action is certified.

In her ruling, Judge Lax explicitly rejected a federal argument that a messy courtroom battle could play into the hands of the U.S. cattle lobby, which hopes to permanently close the border to Canadian beef and cattle products. "This may be a difficult political decision, but it is not a reason to deny certification," she said.

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