O’Neill v. General Motors of Canada
Post-Retirement Benefits Class Action
Update – August 10, 2014: This class action has been settled
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has approved the settlement of this class action.
Read the Notice of Settlement Approval, which will give you the details of the settlement and the process by which Class Members will be compensated.
A description of the healthcare benefits coverage effective September 1, 2014 can be viewed here.
The Court also approved legal fees.
Update – July 4, 2014
The parties have reached an agreement to settle the class action. The proposed settlement is subject to court approval. A public hearing will take place on August 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m., 130 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, Courtroom 5, at which time the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the class.
The attached notice describes the proposed settlement in detail, including who it applies to, the details of the settlement, the process by which Class Members will be compensated if the settlement is approved, and the manner in which Class Members can participate in the settlement approval process.
For more information, contact Tanya Atherfold.
Update – July 17, 2013 – Superior Court rules in the employees’ favour:
The Superior Court of Justice has ruled in favour of the former salaried employees in the class action, finding that GM did not have the contractual authority to reduce their health care and life insurance benefits after they retired.
Unfortunately, the court also held that the language in the benefits documents allowed GM to reduce the benefits of executive employees post-retirement (a new class action was subsequently commenced for these employees).
GM has indicated that it will appeal the decision.
The plaintiff has brought a motion for summary judgment on two of the common issues (breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation) in the class action, and GMCL had brought a motion for summary judgment on two other common issues relating to recent hires and early retirees. These motions are scheduled to be heard together before Justice Belobaba on May 27-28, 2013.
Update – October 25, 2011:
Justice George Strathy has ordered that the class action be certified on consent. The class is defined as follows:
(a) all salaried and executive retirees of GMCL who retired from GMCL between January 1, 1995 and October 20, 2011, and
(b) all surviving spouses and dependent children beneficiaries of any deceased persons described in (a),**
(i) former employees of Canadian Automotive Manufacturing Inc. (“CAMI”) who became employees of GMCL as a result of the amalgamation of CAMI and GMCL effective January 1, 2011 and
(ii) retirees of divested units Electro-Motive Canada Co (“EMC”, formerly London Diesel); General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada Corporation (“GDLS”, formerly GM Defense); Peregrine Oshawa Inc. (and its successor Automotive Component Systems of Canada, Inc (“ACSYS”); or Peregrine Windsor Inc. (and its successor Lear Corporation Canada Ltd.) where post-retirement benefits are not provided by GMCL.
** For greater clarity, this means: in respect of people described in paragraph (a) who died prior to October 20, 2011, all surviving spouses of such deceased people, and where there is no surviving spouse or where the surviving spouse died prior to October 20, 2011, all dependent children of such deceased people described in paragraph (a), in all cases such surviving spouses and dependents being persons eligible under GMCL’s benefit plans without regard to the changes to eligibility requirements under GMCL’s benefit plans effective January 1, 2009.
What the class action is about:
A class action has been commenced against General Motors of Canada Limited (“GMCL”) on behalf of more than 3,300 salaried and executive retirees, whose post-retirement benefits were reduced and eliminated over 2008-2009. The lawsuit alleges the post-retirement benefits were vested and that GMCL had no contractual right to unilaterally reduce and eliminate the post-retirement benefits.
The law firms of Goldblatt Partners LLP and Sotos LLP are co-counsel to the class.
The representative plaintiff:
Justice Strathy appointed Joseph O’Neill, who worked for GM for almost 40 years, as the representative plaintiff in the class action. Sadly, Mr. O’Neill later passed away and Mr. Lynn McCullough was appointed as the new representative plaintiff.