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Product Liability

Product Liability
Product Liability
Standout product liability practice providing seamless national support as well as cross-border capabilities.
Ranked in Band 1 for Litigation: Product Liability, Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2020

In an era of expanding regulatory oversight and increasing consumer activism, product liability law has evolved into a complex and ever-changing area of risk for many businesses. As the first Canadian firm that has defended a product liability matter through a common issues trial to a defence verdict, the Blakes Product Liability team is widely regarded as one of the top practices in the country and the only firm recognized in Band 1 for Product Liability Defence by Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2018Who's Who Legal Canada: Product Liability Defence 2017 refers to Blakes as “the foremost firm in this area."

We are frequently retained as counsel to guide clients through the interrelated regulatory and litigation issues that arise throughout a product’s lifecycle, from early product assessment, claims prevention and compliance to tailored risk and reputation management strategies, and defence of claims.​

Solving Problems

Our Product Liability team includes trial lawyers who are experienced in developing trial strategies that inform pre-trial preparation and procedural decisions, including the preparation of expert evidence. Our collective trial experience, combined with our national footprint, is particularly valuable in the current environment when product liability matters are more frequently certified as class actions than other types of class proceedings. 

We advise on complex domestic and cross-border product liability issues, offering our clients creative and pragmatic solutions. Our team has a reputation for providing commercially aware and sophisticated, product-specific advice. We understand the dynamics of product development and the underlying scientific and technical aspects of drug, medical device, food and mechanical products, among others. Our clients also have the benefit of strategic advice from lawyers in our Marketing & Health Regulatory practice, who regularly engage various federal and provincial regulators on products-related issues. 

Our Product Liability lawyers proactively advise world-class manufacturers and distributors of products on a broad range of product liability issues including:

  • The defence of product liability claims, including design and manufacturing negligence claims, allegations of breach of the duty to warn, breaches of sale of goods and consumer protection legislation and a wide range of "toxic tort" claims

  • Claims avoidance and related insurance

  • Compliance programs and regulatory obligations 

  • Product risk assessment

  • Labelling and warnings

  • Complaints involving injury or adverse effects

Our team advises and represents clients in claims, particularly class actions, that involve a number of products, including medical devices, pharmaceutical medicines, consumer appliances and other electronic products, automobiles and parts, construction equipment, computer software, among others.

With a dedicated, in-house E-Discovery & Document Management team, Blakes offers cost-effective, “litigation-ready” information management systems that facilitate fast and efficient document retrieval. ​

Building Relationships  

We fully appreciate how important open communication, collaboration and coordination is to our clients, particularly as product liability litigation increasingly arises in cross-border and multi-jurisdictional contexts. We regularly integrate into multi-jurisdictional trial teams alongside in-house counsel and/or external counsel. Our understanding of the U.S. legal system and regulatory environment, and the key differences under the Canadian legal system, enables us to manage efficiencies when defending clients facing cross-border and multi-jurisdictional claims that extend into Canada.

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Recent Experience
  • One of the world's leading manufacturers of life-saving cardiac devices in successfully defending them in the first medical products class action/common issues trial tried to verdict in Canada (146 trial days), claiming more than C$1-billion in damages. Blakes also represented the defendants on the plaintiff’s appeal from the trial decision and in the negotiation of a resolution of a claim for the trial costs that ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the appeal. This case was awarded Canadian Product Liability Impact Case of the Year in 2013 at the LMG Life Sciences Awards.

  • One of the world's leading manufacturers of fire protection systems in successfully defending them in 20 claims and cross-claims resulting from a large factory fire, including a product liability/environmental class action claiming C$80-million in damages. The class action was settled mid-trial, and subrogation claims against our client were dismissed after the trial concluded.

  • Successfully opposing authorization of class actions against a leading multinational manufacturer of pharmaceutical, medical and consumer products in Canada (Quebec and B.C.), alleging false and misleading representations regarding children's cough and cold medicines. The Supreme Court of Canada denied the plaintiffs’ application for leave to appeal in both provinces.

  • Successfully opposing certification of class actions in B.C. and Quebec against a leading global beverage company concerning alleged misleading advertising and labelling of one of its products.

  • A major consumer appliance manufacturer, as their co-counsel, in a national class action in Ontario, alleging a design defect in front-loading washing machines. The certification motion and, ultimately, the action itself were dismissed with costs. The decision was upheld on an appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada denied the plaintiff’s request for leave to appeal.

  • Successfully opposing authorization of a class action against a leading multinational manufacturer in the Quebec Superior Court related to the use of bisphenol A in one of its brands of baby-food containers.

  • A number of leading multinational pharmaceutical and medical device companies in multi-provincial class proceedings/mass torts, alleging product liability (negligence in design, manufacture or warnings) and claiming hundreds of millions of dollars for personal injuries and medical monitoring and disgorgement remedies. Class actions relate to pelvic repair systems with transvaginal mesh, hip replacement products, medications for severe acne, pain medications, birth control products, antipsychotics, gastrointestinal medicine, and other medicines and medical devices.

  • A multinational chemical company in the defence of a product liability suit, alleging the defective design and manufacture of polyethylene gas tanks.

  • A publicly traded manufacturing company in class action proceedings filed in Quebec and Ontario, alleging liability with respect to engine models sold in Canada equipped with emission reduction technology.

  • A multinational food and drink company in a proposed class action in connection with its dog food, alleging it contains toxic ingredients and was not safe for consumption. The case was ultimately discontinued.

  • A global manufacturer and supplier of roofing products in the defence of a national class action, alleging defective design and manufacture as well as various breaches of consumer protection legislation with respect to organic roofing shingles.

Awards & Recognition

Members of the Blakes Product Liability team have been recognized as leaders in their field in the most recent editions of the following publications:

  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business ranks Blakes as the only firm in Band 1: “Excellent track record in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, food and automotive fields, and broad experience covering all aspects of product claims, from early product assessment and risk management to class action defence.” Two Blakes lawyers are also recognized in this category.

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys recognizes six Blakes lawyers in its Product Liability category. 

  • Who’s Who Legal Canada: Product Liability Defence – “Leading Canadian firm Blake, Cassels & Graydon emerges as one of the country’s standout practices. The firm’s team is adept at advising clients on liability issues, risk and litigation throughout the entire product life cycle. Four practitioners are recognized in this edition. One is listed as a ‘thought leader’ for North America”

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory ranks Blakes as “Most Frequently Recommended” in the Litigation – Product Liability category. Six Blakes lawyers are also most frequently recommended in this category.

  • The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada recognizes a Blakes lawyer as “Most Frequently Recommended” in the area of Litigation – Product Liability.

  • The Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers in Canada recognizes a Blakes lawyer in the area of Litigation – Product Liability.

  • Who's Who Legal: Life Sciences recognizes four Blakes lawyers in the area of Product Liability, with one lawyer identified as one of three “Thought Leaders” in the Americas.

  • Who’s Who Legal: Product Liability Defence recognizes seven Blakes lawyers, one of which is named as a “Most Highly Regarded Individual.”

  • Legal Media Group's Guide to the World's Leading Litigation and Product Liability Lawyers recognizes five Blakes lawyers in the area of Product Liability.

  • LMG Life Sciences: The Definitive Guide to the Leading Life Sciences Firms and Attorneys in North America – “‘Possibly the deepest bench of products litigators in the country….’”

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada recognizes 10 Blakes lawyers in the area of Product Liability.

Our group has also received the following awards:

  • Benchmark Canada Awards – Members of our group have been awarded Product Liability Litigator of the Year several years in a row, including in 2019.

  • LMG Life Sciences Awards – One of our team members was named Canadian Product Liability Attorney of the Year several years in a row, including in 2019.

  • Best Lawyers Awards – A Blakes lawyer was named Product Liability Law Lawyer of the Year for 2020 in Calgary