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."
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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.