MONTREAL, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- About 8,000 Canadians have signed on to a class-action lawsuit against tobacco companies and the number could grow, says a group involved in the action.
An estimated 1.9 million people could receive money if the action against three major tobacco companies is successful, The (Montreal) Gazette reported Monday.
A ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeals last week exempted the government from any liability, potentially making the manufacturers pay all claims.
Marie-Soleil Boivin, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, which launched one of two lawsuits, said there was always a rush of new registrants after the news media published stories about the suits.
Her group would publicize any judgment favorable to plaintiffs, she added, potentially increasing the number of people eligible for a settlement.
She said claimants are not required to register before the lawsuits are decided, which is expected to take two more years.
Claimants who register early will receive regular updates about the progress of the legal actions and could be contacted by attorneys involved in the cases.
The first of the two suits was filed in September 1998. The second suit was filed two months later.
Lawyers in the oldest lawsuit are seeking $10,000 for each person in the group. Attorneys in the second suit want $100,000 for each plaintiff .