In Harrison v. XL Foods Inc., a putative class action launched against XL Foods Inc. for negligence (among other alleged wrongs) in connection with the 2012 recall of meat from an Alberta processing plant that was found to be contaminated with E. coli, the defendant XL has successfully added the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as a third party to the lawsuit.

The CFIA brought a summary judgment motion to defeat this procedural step, but in a decision released on September 5, 2013, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta held that the CFIA had not met the high test for summary dismissal of the claims advanced against it. The class action plaintiff failed in a separate attempt to persuade the court to stay the third party notice until after the certification hearing and any subsequent common issues trial between the plaintiff and the defendants.

While the court’s full written reasons will not be available until after the certification hearing, Associate Chief Justice Rooke did state in his memorandum of decision that the issues between the defendants and the CFIA are inter-related with the common issues between the plaintiff and the defendants. The court was therefore of the opinion that they should be considered at the certification hearing. Indeed, if the class action is certified, the court opined that the class proceeding would be the appropriate forum to determine any “common issues” between the defendants and the CFIA – unless the court decides otherwise at the certification hearing.