The Quebec Court of Appeal recently upheld a lower court decision that had rejected a woman’s class action against the province’s lottery corporation, Loto-Quebec, in which she claimed that it had misled her and others on their chances of winning a jackpot.

What Happened?

The appellant had been purchasing 6/49 lotto tickets for about 20 years and Lotto Max tickets since 2012, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

She claimed that she had never been informed of her chances of winning by Loto-Quebec on any of Loto-Quebec’s selection sheets, lottery tickets, advertising material or website. She claimed that if she had had the proper information about her chances of winning, she would have never bought the lottery tickets.

She applied to court for authorization to commence a class action against Loto-Quebec on behalf of all people who had bought lottery tickets since 2013. She sought reimbursement of all profits obtained by Loto-Quebec from the sale of these tickets and an award of $150 million in punitive damages. Her claim relied on provisions from Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act, the federal Competition Act and the Civil Code of Quebec.

Lower Court Decision

The trial judge analyzed the criteria that must be satisfied in order for collective action to be authorized to proceed. In light of the facts alleged and the evidence filed, he concluded that none of these criteria had been met.

According to the judge, the proposed class action had no chance of success. The allegations were too general, lacked a factual basis and were contradicted by the appellant’s own documentary evidence. The court found that the evidence showed that the chances of winning information was available to ticket buyers before the purchase of a ticket, as evidenced on the back of each ticket. In addition, Loto-Quebec’s advertising material also set out the chances of winning.

Finally, the trial judge found the allegations supporting the claim for punitive damages to be general and vague.

The Law

Section 575 of the Quebec Code of Civil Procedure states:

575The court authorizes the class action and appoints the class member it designates as representative plaintiff if it is of the opinion that

(1)   the claims of the members of the class raise identical, similar or related issues of law or fact;

(2)   the facts alleged appear to justify the conclusions sought;

(3)   the composition of the class makes it difficult or impracticable to apply the rules for mandates to take part in judicial proceedings on behalf of others or for consolidation of proceedings; and

(4)   the class member appointed as representative plaintiff is in a position to properly represent the class members.

Court of Appeal Decision

The court looked at the application of the legislative criteria to the facts. First, the court rejected the claim that the ticket buyers were unaware of their chances of winning. It agreed with the trial judge that such information was readily available to consumers through various means, including on the back of the tickets, on Loto-Quebec’s website and through its advertising materials. It rejected the appellant’s argument under the Consumer Protection Act that Loto-Quebec had failed to fulfill its duty by failing to disclose a material fact and by failing to properly inform consumers of their chances of winning the lottery.

It found that the trial judge was also correct in concluding that the allegation that lottery ticket consumers were vulnerable was vague and a matter of opinion.

Finally, the Court of Appeal concluded that the allegations related to punitive damages were too general and vague to be upheld. The court denied the appeal and the class action authorization was rejected.

For Help

The manufacturers, designers and retailers of consumer goods are obligated to ensure that their products meet safety standards and will not cause harm to consumers when put to their intended use. If you have suffered an injury as a result of a faulty or defective product, it is important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible, in order to preserve evidence for a possible lawsuit.

At Petker Campbell Postnikoff, our lawyers are experienced and effective litigators who will work to represent your interests against the providers, creators and retailers of defective or faulty products. Call us today at 519-886-1204 or contact us online to arrange a no-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers.