SCOC to hear food recall class action by Mr. Sub franchisees against Maple Leaf

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case on whether a distributor is responsible for a franchisee's losses during a food recall.

The top court has granted an application for leave to appeal by a class-action lawsuit representing Mr. Submarine Inc. franchisees against Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and Maple Leaf Consumer Foods Inc.

The case started after a 2008 recall when Toronto-based Maple Leaf pulled roughly 200 products due to a deadly listeria outbreak caused by contamination at one of its plants.

The franchisees say that they were bound by an exclusive supply arrangement to purchase ready-to-eat meats through Maple Leaf from a distributor and dealt with a six- to eight-week product shortages, as well as reputational injury and product losses.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Maple Leaf in April 2018 that the duty to supply a product fit for human consumption is to the customers and not the franchisees.

Peter Kryworuk, a lawyer for the franchisees, said he was pleased by the top court's decision to hear the appeal and that he expected the case will be heard later this year.