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Canada: Product Liability Defence 2016

This year’s chapter identifies 31 practitioners with a proven track record in representing and advising manufacturers and sellers against claims for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods, including mass tort and class action litigation.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Gordon McKee Blake Cassels & Graydon, Toronto
Peter Pliszka Fasken Martineau DuMoulin, Toronto
Glenn Zakaib Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Toronto
James Sullivan Blake Cassels & Graydon, Vancouver
Sandra Corbett QC Field, Edmonton

 Blake Cassels & Graydon leads our research with seven practitioners, four of whom feature as some of the highest-ranked practitioners. Gordon McKee focuses on defending class action law suits and serious product liability claims. He represents multinational manufacturers and distributors in the pharmaceutical, automotive and consumer goods industries, among many others. He is described as “an outstanding lawyer” and “one of the very best at the class action bar”. Jill Lawrie focuses on litigation and dispute resolution relating to product liability, particularly in pharmaceutical liability. She has a very good reputation as “a brilliant trial lawyer”. Robin Linley advises distributors and manufacturers on issues including risk management, litigation avoidance, compliance and product recalls across a range of sectors. He is noted for his “tenacity and attention to detail when representing clients”. The “top-notch” James Sullivan has vast experience of class action litigation before the provincial courts in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, and before the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. Robert Torralbo focuses on defending class actions in numerous industries including life sciences, heavy industry and construction and consumer goods.

McCarthy Tétrault also demonstrates its strong practice in this area. In Montreal, Simon Potter is recommended as a "strong and dynamic” lawyer. He handles class actions particularly in relation to claims in the tobacco industry. Michel Gagné specialises in defending class actions with particular emphasis on manufacturers’ liability class actions regarding pharmaceutical and consumer products. Jill Yates provides expertise in class actions and product liability representing clients across a range of sectors. She is considered “a real strategist with a forensic approach to her cases”.

Peter Pliszka at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin is the national chair of the firm’s product liability and insurance practice group and scores highly in our research. According to respondents, “He has a leading practice and is one of the most experienced product liability lawyers working in Canada today.” He is frequently retained by companies in Canada and the US in design, manufacture and regulatory issues. Geoffrey Cowper QC is active in large-scale cases both in Canada and abroad, showing “a keen commercial awareness” as well as providing “creative solutions” to his clients. Steven Rosenhek is engaged as senior counsel at both trial and appellate level before all levels of Court in Canada in class actions and product liability matters. He is described as “an extremely knowledgeable lawyer who has a great demeanour”.

McMillan achieves two listings. Teresa Dufort is co-leader of the firm's product liability defence and regulatory group and is described as having “a great reputation at the bar”. She acts as the primary Canadian counsel to numerous multinationals in the US, Europe and Asia. Scott Maidment is “a superb advocate” who is very visible before trial and appellate courts across Canada. He focuses on class actions and complex cases in multiple industries, including significant experience in life sciences.

At Gowling WLG, Mary Thomson is "second to none in class action defence work". She focuses on product liability cases in life sciences including pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

At Borden Ladner Gervais, the “excellent” Brad Dixon leads the class actions focus group and is known for successfully defending numerous complex and high-profile class actions cases. Bruce Churchill-Smith QC is considered a leading expert in relation to insurance aspects of complex product liability claims.

Glenn Zakaib at Cassels Brock & Blackwell specialises in product liability cases relating to the life sciences, automotive, aviation and consumer goods industries, including class action proceedings. He is considered a “rainmaker” by his peers, particularly in the automotive area.

Sandra Corbett QC at Field Law in Edmonton has a “strategic approach and delivers effective solutions”. She is active before all levels of the Alberta courts and has defended serious product liability claims.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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W11 1QQ, UK