Lawyers the only winners in Canada Dry 'real ginger' B.C. class action lawsuit | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lawyers the only winners in Canada Dry 'real ginger' B.C. class action lawsuit

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Canada Dry
October 29, 2020 - 6:00 AM

Does Canada Dry Ginger Ale contain any real ginger?

You might not have thought to check on that advertising claim — or care — but a B.C. man started a class action lawsuit in 2019 alleging that it doesn't, following closely behind other lawsuits filed in the U.S. Despite nearly two years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars, this week a B.C. judge put the final touches on a settlement agreement, which doesn't cover half the legal bills, provides no compensation to consumers, didn't change the advertising claim and never answered the question.

Lawyers for the plaintiff, who argued that it doesn't contain ginger, were the only ones to get any cash and even they are in the hole. The judge was tasked with determining how much of the $200,000 settlement should go to the lawyers who accepted the case on a contingency, meaning they could pursue the case for a share of the settlement, fixed between roughly 30 and 40 per cent.

The judge noted that, at least in Canadian law, courts need to avoid the perception that only lawyers benefit from legal proceedings.

"I am concerned that an award whereby counsel receives more than the amount being paid... on behalf of their collective client class could be viewed adversely by the public," Justice Karen Douglas wrote. "The ultimate purpose of the class action vehicle is to benefit the class, not their lawyers."

Problem is, the lawyers spent more than $220,000 researching and litigating the case at $950 per hour. 

Douglas allowed the lawyers to take roughly $100,000 in fees and disbursements, although they failed to prove the drink doesn't contain ginger. Two 'representative' clients in B.C. and Alberta each got $1,500.

The remainder was earmarked for a legal foundation. 

Not determination was ever made about Canada Dry's "Made with Real Ginger" that appears on advertising. Owners Canada Dry Mott's produced expert documents showing it was made with ginger derivatives.

As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs agreed to make no further challenges on its claim.

According to the Oct. 23, B.C. Supreme Court decision, Victor Cardoso launched the class action suit against Canada Dry Mott’s in January 2019. He claimed he bought Canada Dry Ginger Ale for medicinal purposes on the basis it was made from real ginger.

The decision does not say if it was coordinated but five months after Cardoso had filed his suit against Canada Dry, two parallel suits alleging the same thing were also filed against the company in Alberta and Quebec.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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