Class Action on Reduction of Retiree Benefits to Proceed
Date: February 12, 2014
A proposed class action brought in Québec by retirees against their former employer was recently authorized by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The claim advanced in Vivendi Canada Inc. v. Dell’Aniello related to unilateral changes made by the employer in 2009 to the retirees’ supplemental health insurance plan.
The Court found that the four criteria set out in the Québec Code of Civil Procedure (“CCP”) required to institute a class proceeding were met. Specifically, it held that, to meet the “commonality of issues” requirement, it was not necessary to have an identical answer for all members of the class; it was sufficient to show that the answer did not give rise to “conflicting interests” among the class members. In this regard, the Court stated that the CCP “requires not a common answer, but a common question that can serve to advance the resolution of the litigation with respect to all the members of the group”. The question of the validity of the 2009 amendment to the plan applied to all group members, and therefore there was a common question.
This decision was procedural in nature; the claim on the merits will now proceed as a class action. For more information about the decision, see our Case in Point blog post “SCC authorizes Québec class action regarding reduction of retiree benefits“.