Friday, June 19, 2009

Ontario Court Nixes CIBC Overtime Class Action

A class action proceeding by bank tellers against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for $600 million in unpaid overtime wages has been dismissed by an Ontario Superior Court judge.

Madame Justice Joan Lax ruled against certification of the class action proceeding yesterday, holding that inadequate "common issue" presented among the individual claimants in the class to justify continuation of the class action.

The ruling allows the overtime pay claimants to bring subsequent individual actions for damages against the bank.

The Toronto Star summarized the decision:

Justice Joan Lax ruled the case didn't meet the test to be a class-action lawsuit.

"While some of the certification requirements could be satisfied, the action lacks the essential element of commonality," Lax wrote in the decision released today.

"In my opinion, there is no asserted common issue capable of being determined on a class-wide basis that would sufficiently advance this litigation to justify certification."

Financial Post also reported on the decision:

An Ontario Superior Court Justice has refused to certify a $600-million overtime class-action lawsuit against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

It's a ruling that could stymie other overtime class-action suits that are pending in Canadian courts, including one against the Bank of Nova Scotia..

Justice Joan Lax rejected the suit brought by CIBC employee Dara Fresco on the basis that "this is not a proper case for certification and that a class proceeding is not the preferable procedure for resolving the claims of class members for unpaid overtime."

Bloomberg reports that CIBC shares "rose 0.7 percent after the ruling was released. The shares rose C$1.17 to C$54.19 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange today."

We previously reported on the case, Fresco v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 07-cv-334113PD2, Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Toronto) in November 2007. See: Update: CIBC Employees' Overtime Class Action.

We will post the ruling of Madame Justice Lax when it is available online.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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