What is a class action?


A class action is a lawsuit brought by one or more representative plaintiffs on behalf of a group of people who have legal issues in common.  The idea is that a single trial on the ‘common issues’ will advance the legal rights of the entire group in a fair and cost effective manner.



What are the BSE Class Actions against Ridley Inc. and the government of Canada about?


Class action lawsuits were commenced in April, 2005 in Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan and Alberta against the government of Canada alleging that it was responsible for allowing the introduction of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the Canadian cattle herd and against Ridley Inc. alleging that it manufactured infected feed fed to a cow diagnosed with BSE on May 20, 2003.  

Specifically, the nature of the claims being made on behalf of the class members against the government of Canada are:

    • negligence in causing or contributing to the BSE crisis;
    • negligence in failing to warn the Class Members of the risks of BSE in Canada as a result of British cattle entering the animal food chain;
    • misfeasance (gross negligence) in public office; and
    • damages.

Has a settlement agreement been reached?


No.  At this time there is only a National Partial Settlement of the BSE Class Actions.

The action against Ridley Inc. has been settled as a compromise of disputed claims, with approval being received from both the Québec and Ontario Courts.  The settling defendant denies liability and wrongdoing on its part. 

On September 3, 2008 the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified the action as a class action against the government of Canada on behalf of all class members in Canada, apart from those in Québec.  On January 22, 2009 the Ontario Divisional Court denied the government of Canada leave to appeal the certification order.  The decision now means the case can move forward to trial, with a pretrial date yet to be set.

The Ontario statement of claim against the Government of Canada has been amended to include a claim of misfeasance in public office by a public servant in the agriculture department, as Class Counsel contends individuals involved were grossly negligent in their responsibilities.

Notice of the authorization of the Quebec action to the Quebec class was published in September 2007.

What does the National Partial Settlement Agreement mean?


The settling defendant will pay the sum of $6 million in full and final settlement of all claims against it by the settlement class members including interest and costs. The settling defendant and its related parties will not be liable to make any other payment in respect of the BSE actions.


The settlement monies will be used to fund the ongoing class actions in Ontario and Québec against the government of Canada in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Any remaining monies will be divided among the five veterinary colleges in Canada.


Crawford Class Action Services has been appointed by the courts as Administrator of the Settlement Agreement and will oversee the use of the settlement funds. The court will supervise the administration and operation of the distribution of these funds.


Complete information on the Settlement Agreement with the settling defendant can be found at www.bseclassaction.ca.

Who is considered a Class Member?


Ontario National Class – All persons who as at May 20, 2003 were resident in Canada (except the province of Québec) and farmed cattle, including but not limited to cow-calf, backgrounder, purebred, veal, feedlot and dairy producers.


In this class definition ‘person’ means any individual, partnership, corporation, cooperative, communal organization, trust, band farm or other association who as at May 20, 2003 was farming cattle within the meaning of the Income Tax Act.

Québec Class – All physical and moral persons residing in Québec who raise cattle or sell cows or calves who have suffered damages as a result of the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a cow from Alberta confirmed on May 20, 2003 and who suffered from the closure of borders to the export of Canadian beef and live cattle.


What if I don’t wish to participate in this Class Action?  Can I opt out and how do I opt out?


If you do not wish to receive any money and would like to exclude yourself from the BSE Class Actions, you can opt out by sending a written and signed election by fax or mail to the Administrator. 

The written election to opt out must state the person’s full name, current address and telephone number, and that the person opts out of the BSE class actions. It must be signed by the person opting out, or an authorized representative of the person. 

The opt out must be filed with the Claims Administrator by fax or by mail postmarked on or before June 12, 2009 (the Opt Out Deadline): 

BSE Class Action

c/o Crawford Class Action Services

3-505, 133 Weber St. N.

Waterloo Ontario N2J 3G9

Telephone 1-866-800-0075

Fax 519 578 7739

E-mail bse@crawco.ca


If you opt out, you will NOT be eligible for any of the benefits that may result from any successful conclusion of the BSE class actions against the government of Canada, whether by way of trial or further settlement.

7. I previously opted out of the Ridley BSE Settlement.  Do I need to opt out of the BSE Class Action against the government of Canada as well? 

The BSE class action against Ridley Inc. is settled.  When you opted out previously, you opted out of receiving any benefit from the Ridley BSE settlement. 

The BSE class action against the government of Canada is now certified and awaiting a trial date.  If you do not wish to be bound by this ongoing class action, you will need to opt out and that decision is yours. 

You may wish to seek independent legal advice at your own expense regarding your rights.


What if I choose to do nothing?


If you do not opt out of the BSE class actions, you will remain a class member and will not be able to bring or maintain any other claim or legal proceeding in connection with any aspect of the BSE crisis against the settling defendant and any individual action that this class member commences against the settling defendant will be dismissed.



Do I need a lawyer?


This is your choice. Should you decide to seek the advice of your own counsel, you will be responsible for the costs you incur. 



Who do I contact for more information?


Questions about the substantive matters in the Notice should be directed to:


BSE Class Action

c/o Crawford Class Action Services

3-505, 133 Weber St. N.

Waterloo Ontario N2J 3G9

Telephone 1-866-800-0075

Fax 519-578-7739

E-mail bse@crawco.ca