Ontario Court Of Appeal Affirms Dismissal Of EnerGuide Fuel Consumption Label Class Action

Published date15 March 2023
Subject MatterConsumer Protection, Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Energy and Natural Resources, Energy Law, Oil, Gas & Electricity, Class Actions, Dodd-Frank, Consumer Protection Act
Law FirmFasken
AuthorMr Steven Rosenhek, Zohaib Maladwala and Daniella Murynka

In 2018, a class action claiming $1.5 billion in damages was certified against Ford Motor Company and related entities. 1 The claim centred on fuel consumption ratings set out in EnerGuide labels on new Ford 2013 and 2014 models. The plaintiff alleged that Ford had breached the federal Competition Act and certain provincial consumer protection statutes, which prohibit false or misleading advertising and false, misleading or deceptive representations, respectively.

The plaintiff, Mr. Rebuck, alleged he reviewed the EnerGuide label when he purchased his new 2014 Ford Edge SUV. The label gave a rating of 36 mpg for highway driving, and he claimed that his on-board fuel consumption display showed 23 mpg. A review of Ford's test methods used to generate the fuel consumption data on the EnerGuide labels demonstrated that Ford had used a "2-Cycle Test" in respect of 2013 and 2014 vehicles, even though it used a "5-Cycle Test" for comparable vehicles in the United States. It was material that the "5-Cycle Test" was not adopted by the federal Department of Natural Resources in Canada until 2015.

The class action was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on the Ford defendants' motion for summary judgment in mid-2022. 2 On Appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed the decision to dismiss. 3 The Court of Appeal agreed with the motions judge that the Ford defendants had complied with the federal government's directives and guidelines, including by using the 2-Cycle Test in 2013 and 2014.

As stated above, the Ontario Superior Court dismissed the class action on a motion for summary judgment in 2022. Justice Belobaba dismissed the Competition Act claim primarily on the basis that the Ford defendants had complied with federal government guidelines that prescribed a 2-Cycle Test method. The plaintiff had also failed to establish any general impression conveyed by the labels that was false or misleading.

With respect to the consumer protection claims, the plaintiff's argument was that Ford should have disclosed, alongside the labels, additional information about the differences between 2-Cycle and 5-Cycle testing. Justice Belobaba focused his analysis on whether...

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