Lawsuit funds target nutrition studies
Memorial University will direct funds it stands to receive from a class action suit towards creating a professorship in nutrition studies and research. Memorial will be receiving $963,959 out of an additional $20 million awarded in a pan-Canadian class action brought on behalf of direct purchasers, indirect purchasers and consumers of vitamins and vitamin products.
The announcement was made on Dec. 18 by the law firms of Sutts Strosberg LLP (Windsor, Ont.), Siskinds (London, Ont.) and Camp Fiorante Matthews (Vancouver, B.C.). The funds are part of the settlement in excess of $132 million approved by the courts of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec in 2005 pertaining to the alleged price-fixing of vitamins in Canada.
In a news release issued on Dec. 18, class counsel explained the reasoning behind the distribution of the award. “As the settlement amount cannot be economically distributed to individual consumers or farmers across Canada who purchased vitamins between 1986 and 1999 in light of their sheer numbers and the likely small dollar amount per claim, the courts approved the distribution of monies to universities. Universities with doctoral programs in food and nutrition were chosen to receive funds on behalf of consumers of vitamins and vitamin products.”
“We intend to use these funds to create a professorship in nutrition studies at Memorial,” said Memorial president Dr. Axel Meisen. “We want to use this money to create a long-term legacy, one that will be built on the work we are already doing here in the areas of nutrition and in cognate areas like obesity, diabetes and other health-related issues. We also want the professor to direct teaching and research towards health issues that affect the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We think such an approach honours the spirit of the judgment and benefits the people of this province. Neither class counsel nor the vitamin industry will direct the work.”
Dr. Meisen said that the next step will be to develop a call for proposals which will be circulated to the university community. Such a call will help focus the broad ideas that have been sketched so far. He expects the call for proposals to be issued early this year.