Court extends order suspending legal proceedings against 'Big Tobacco'

An Ontario court has extended an order that suspended legal proceedings against three big tobacco companies.
    
JTI-Macdonald Corp., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. were granted protection from their creditors last month after they lost an appeal in a multibillion-dollar case in Quebec.
    
On March 1, Quebec's highest court upheld a landmark judgment that ordered the companies to pay more than $15 billion to smokers who were part of two class-action lawsuits.
    
The companies quickly secured creditor protection in Ontario, putting all legal proceedings on hold so that a global settlement could be negotiated with all those who have claims against them, including the class-action members and several provincial governments.
    
The stay was set to expire at midnight Friday but Ontario Superior Court Justice Thomas McEwen agreed to push the deadline to June 28.
    
However, McEwen has yet to rule on a motion that could lift the stay and send the matter back to the Quebec court of appeal. 

That decision is expected the week of April 15.