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Clint Docken: One of Canada's Original Class Action Litigators

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Calgary, ABCanadians have been a little more laissez-faire, shall we say, than their American neighbors when it comes to diving into class action lawsuits but they are starting to get the hang of it. Over the last 5 years, a virtual blizzard of class actions has been blowing through Canadian courts and the major reason is change to Canadian law. "We haven't had the legislation or legal tools in the past, but we have been essentially enabled; we're up and running and very active," says Calgary attorney Clinton Docken.

The Calgary firm of Docken & Company is one of a handful of firms in Canada that specialize in class actions and personal injury litigation. "We are a boutique litigation firm," says Docken, speaking from his office early one morning. Docken and his 5-lawyer firm have been litigating for plaintiffs for well over 10 years. "It was litigation over breast implants that first got us interested in class actions and we saw the potential there--that is how we started," he says.

In 1996, according to the Canadian Barr Association database, there were exactly 2 class action suits filed in Canada. Twelve years later, there are more than 100 class actions currently playing out in courtrooms across the country. Canadians are seeking compensation for everything from the alleged price fixing of chocolate bars to abuse in Indian Residential Schools. "The kinds of issues include environment cases, consumer cases, product liability cases--the full range," says Docken.

The most active provinces for class action suits are Quebec and Ontario, however other provinces are also seeing class actions filed. Much of Canadian class action law is similar to US law; however, there are many significant differences. "The class action climate in some areas is more favorable here than it is in the US," says Docken. "We have a greater ability to handle personal injury cases and securities litigation. We have also had settlements in Canada where there have not been settlements in the US."

"One of example that is the Stadol NS case," says Docken. In 2004, a class action suit launched in Quebec and Ontario alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co. and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company negligently manufactured and marketed an analgesic spray called Stadol NS for the treatment of migraine headaches. Members of the class action successfully claimed that the spray was addictive and that the company ought to have known that when it sold the product. The case was settled for $12.5 million. "In the US, the case was never even certified," says Docken.

Docken & Company has represented plaintiffs in highly publicized suits against Indian Residential Schools, people injured as a result of the Hepititis C tainted blood scandal and recently stepped up to act on behalf of an Alberta man affected by the listeriosis outbreak at Maple Leaf Foods.

Clinton Docken obtained his law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and has been practicing law for 37 years.

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READER COMMENTS

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on
Dear Clint,
Can you please update me on a class action you agreed to take on some years ago about the bad effects of a drug called Olanzapine(Zyprexa) and results or if its ongoing.
Thanks,
Gordon.

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