Judge rules $25 gift card terms from Loblaw Companies Ltd. not misleading

An Ontario judge has ruled that it's too early to determine the enforceability of Loblaw Companies Ltd.'s policy that consumers who receive a $25 gift card from the company waive their right to that sum in possible future settlement money from a bread price-fixing scheme class-action lawsuit.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice Edward M. Morgan dismissed a motion challenging the terms of Loblaw's gift card plan.

The company announced Monday that registrants must agree to a release saying they discharge Loblaw (TSX:L), its parent company George Weston (TSX:WN) and others from relief to the extent of $25 in connection with their involvement in an alleged bread price-fixing arrangement from Jan. 1, 2002 to March 1, 2015.

Morgan said in his ruling that he's not in a position to know what, if any, an eventual settlement will entail, so it's too soon to declare the release enforceable or not.

Loblaw spokesman Kevin Groh says the ``ruling puts to rest the nonsensical claim by class-action lawyers that our $25 Loblaw Card is misleading and confusing,'' when the company is trying to put money in affected consumers' hands quickly.

The law firm which brought the action in front of the court, Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP, says the ruling is a victory for consumers as Loblaw will not be able to deduct the gift card value from any future settlement pay out ``unless it demonstrates that it is fair to consumers as part of an overall resolution of their price-fixing claims.''