Multidistrict Litigation

Posted On: October 4, 2011 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re Community Bank: Third Circuit Court Again Reverses Approval Of Class Action Settlement Holding Wrong Legal Standard Applied To Determine Adequacy Of Representation

District Court Applied Wrong Legal Standard in Finding Named Plaintiffs and Their Counsel to be Adequate Representatives of the Proposed Class under Rule 23(a)(4) and thus Abused its Discretion in Certifying Class and Approving Nationwide Class Action Settlement Third Circuit Holds

Several putative class actions were filed against various defendants, including Community Bank of Northern Virginia (CBNV), Guarantee National Bank of Tallahassee (GNBT) and Residential Funding Corporation (RFC), arising out of “the alleged predatory lending scheme of the Shumway/Bapst Organization (‘Shumway’), a residential mortgage loan business involved in facilitating the making of high-interest, mortgage-backed loans to debt-laden homeowners.” In re Community Bank of N. Va. & Guar. Nat’l Bank of Tallahassee Second Mortgage Loan Litig., 622 F.3d 275 (3d Cir. 2010) [Slip Opn., at 10]. According to the allegations underlying the class action complaints, Shumway entered into relationships with CBNV and GNBT in order to circumvent state-law restrictions on fees that it could charge; the alleged scheme permitted Shumway to make it appear as if the fees were paid to depository institutions (which are not subject to the fee restrictions) when in reality they were being funneled to Shumway. Id. RFC allegedly aided this conspiracy by purchasing CBNV and GNBT loans on the secondary market, even though it allegedly knew that these institutions were acting as mere “straw parties” for Shumway. Id., at 11. The class actions were consolidated, see id., at 11-12, and ultimately a proposed nationwide class action settlement was reached, id., at 13. Certain members of the class objected to the proposed class action settlement, and certain class members sought leave to intervene in the consolidated class action lawsuit; the district court denied the motion to intervene and overruled the objections to the class action settlement. Id., at 9. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of intervention, but reversed and remanded the approval of the class action settlement. Id. The district court again approved the class action settlement, and again the objectors appealed: “The Objectors contend that the failure [to make claims against the defendants under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA)] renders the named plaintiffs and class counsel inadequate class representatives.” Id. The Circuit Court again reversed.

We do not discuss in detail the Circuit Court’s 100-page opinion. In sum, the Third Circuit concluded that “by approaching the adequacy-of-representation questions on remand as though it were ruling on a motion to amend pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c) or a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)6)[,] [the district court] applied the wrong legal standard in ruling on class certification under Rule 23.” In re Community Bank, at 9. Accordingly, the Court “reluctantly” vacated the district court order certifying the class action and approving the class action settlement, and again remanded the matter for further proceedings. Id. The Third Circuit also noted, “we continue to reject (i) the claim that the District Court abused its discretion in denying the Objectors’ renewed motion to intervene, and (ii) their renewed petition for mandamus to recuse the District Judge in this case.” Id.

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Posted On: July 16, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re General Mills: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Denies Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation

Judicial Panel Denies Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Agreeing With Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs that Alternatives to Centralization Exist to Avoid Duplicate Discovery

Four class actions were filed against General Mills – one each in California, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio – arising out of defendant’s marketing of its Yo-Plus and/or Yo-Plus Light yogurts. In re General Mills, Inc., YoPlus Yogurt Prod. Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 8, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Each class action sought to represent only a statewide class, id. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of Florida; plaintiffs in each of the class actions opposed pretrial coordination. Id. While the Judicial Panel recognized that the class actions “do share some factual questions regarding General Mills’s nationwide marketing of its Yo-Plus and/or

Yo-Plus Light yogurt,” the Florida class action was “already certified as a statewide class of all persons who purchased Yo-Plus yogurt in Florida to obtain its claimed digestive benefits.” Id. Moreover, “The other three actions seek similar putative statewide classes encompassing consumers from different states. Accordingly, the certified and putative classes will likely not overlap significantly.” Id. Finally, in light of the fact that General Mills was the sole defendant, “the parties have every ability to cooperate and minimize the possibilities of duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.” Id. Accordingly, the Judicial Panel denied the motion to centralize the class actions. Id., at 2.

Download PDF file of In re General Mills, Inc., YoPlus Yogurt Prod. Marketing & Sales Prac. Litigation Transfer Order Posted In: Multidistrict Litigation, Class Action Court Decisions

Posted On: July 9, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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HELOC Class Action Defense Cases–In re JP Morgan Chase: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiffs Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Northern District Of Illinois

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Defendants, and Transfers Class Actions to Northern District of Illinois

Nine class actions – two each in the Central and Northern Districts of California, and one each in the Eastern and Southern Districts of California, the Northern District of Illinois, the District of Minnesota, and the Northern District of Texas – were filed against various Chase defendants arising out of home equity lines of credit. In re JP Morgan Chase Bank Home Equity Line of Credit Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 7, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “Chase improperly suspended or reduced plaintiffs’ respective home equity line of credit accounts and, relatedly, used inappropriate automated valuation models in assessing the value of the underlying properties.” Id. Attorneys for plaintiffs in seven of the class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Illinois or, alternatively, in the Northern District of California. Id. Plaintiff and defendants in the Minnesota class action supported the motion; plaintiff in the Northern District of California class action supported centralization in that district instead of Illinois. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that it “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” Id. The Judicial Panel also agreed that the Northern District of Illinois was the appropriate transferee court because “Defendants and almost all plaintiffs support centralization in this district” and because it “provides a convenient forum.” Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Illinois to that district. Id.

Download PDF file of In re JP Morgan Chase Bank Home Equity Line of Credit Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: June 25, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Credit Card Interest Rate Class Action Defense Cases–In re Capital One: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Northern District Of Georgia As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Over Objection of Common Class Action Defendants, but Transfers Class Actions to Northern District of Georgia

Two class actions – one in the Georgia and one in Virginia – were filed against Capital One Financial and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Capital One Bank (USA) based on the claim that Capital One “unilaterally increased interest rates on customers’ credit card accounts without notice.” In re Capital One Bank Credit Card Interest Rate Hike Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 11, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Two additional class actions – one in California and another one in Georgia – were treated as potential tag-along cases, id., at 1 n.1. Attorneys for the Virginia class action plaintiffs filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Eastern District of Virginia, where their class action was pending. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the Northern District of Georgia class action supported the motion, id. Capital One opposed centralization of the class actions, or requested that the Judicial Panel delay ruling on the motion until the Georgia district court had ruled on the dispositive motions pending before it, Id. Specifically, defense attorneys had filed motions for summary judgment in each of the Georgia class actions, id., at 1-2. Alternatively, Capital One requested centralization in the Northern District of Georgia, id., at 1. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting defendants’ request to await decisions on the Georgia summary judgment motions because one had been filed only recently and because the California class action suggested that multidistrict litigation would still remain irrespective of the Georgia federal court’s rulings. Id., at 2. The Judicial Panel agreed, however, that the Northern District of Georgia was the appropriate transferee court because “[t]he first-filed actions are pending [there]” and because in one of those cases “discovery has begun and a motion for summary judgment is pending.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Georgia to that district. Id.

Download PDF file of In re Capital One Bank Credit Card Interest Rate Hike Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: May 14, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Toyota Acceleration Class Action Defense Cases–In re Toyota: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Central District Of California

Judicial Panel Grants One Plaintiff’s Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in Central District of California, Rejecting Competing Request of Plaintiff in Different Class Action to Centralize Lawsuits in Eastern District of Louisiana

Eleven class actions – five in California, three in Louisiana, and one each in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and in West Virginia – were filed against various Toyota Motor entities arising out of product defect liability claims: “Each of the actions…asserts economic damages on behalf of certain classes and/or individuals stemming from an alleged defect in certain Toyota vehicles that causes sudden, unintended acceleration.” In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Prac., & Prods. Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 9.2010) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2] . At least 100 additional class actions also had been filed, and were treated as potential tag-along cases. Id., at 1 n.1. Attorneys for plaintiffs in one of the California class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Central District of California, where their class action was pending. Id., at 1. Attorneys for plaintiffs in one of the Louisiana class actions filed a competing motion with the Panel requesting centralization of the class actions in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where their class action was pending. Id. The Judicial Panel observed, “Though these cases have attracted an unusual amount of publicity to the Panel’s work, in all relevant aspects, the issues here are neither dramatically different nor more complex than those we regularly resolve.” Id. The responses filed with the Panel were, literally, all over the map: the defendants, together with plaintiffs in the other California class actions and in 8 of the tag-along cases, supported centralization in California; plaintiffs in 5 other tag-along cases supported centralization in Louisiana; plaintiffs in other pending and tag-along cases supported centralization but argued in support of any of 15 other transferee courts. Id. The Panel also received conflicting briefs as to whether to include personal injury and wrongful death cases within the scope of any centralization order. Id., at 2. Additionally, the Panel noted additional concerns raised by various parties, such as “whether one judge or a particular judge would have the necessary time and resources to handle such a complex, multi-faceted MDL” or whether “the individual personal injury cases might become sidetracked by larger, more complex class action economic loss cases.” Id. The Panel recognized that “[t]hese are absolutely legitimate concerns,” but nonetheless believed that “the federal judiciary is well equipped to handle this litigation under Section 1407.” Id.

The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining at page 2: “The cases involve common questions of fact. No doubt, centralization under Section 1407 will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary. Consequently, centralization will create convenience for the parties and witnesses and will promote the more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” In re Toyota, at 2. The Panel also opted to include the personal injury and wrongful death cases with the economic damage cases, explaining that this ruling was without prejudice to “any later-filed motion to vacate a conditional transfer order in this docket,” because even though “the personal injury and wrongful death claims will require considerable individual discovery in addition to the common discovery in each case,” the Panel was “confident that the transferee judge can design the kind of distinct discovery tracks often employed to address these concerns.” Id. In considering the appropriate transferee court, the Panel agreed that the Central District of California was most appropriate because “Toyota maintains its United States corporate headquarters within this district, and relevant documents and witnesses are likely located there” and because “[f]ar more actions are pending there than in any other district.” Id., at 3. Accordingly, the Panel ordered all of the class actions pending outside the Central District of California be transferred to that district, id.

Download PDF file of In re Toyota Motor Corp. Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Prac., & Prods. Liab. Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: February 12, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re Kentucky Grilled Chicken: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Northern District Of Illinois

Judicial Panel Grants Defendant’s Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Over Objection of Plaintiffs in All Four Affected Class Actions, and Transfers Class Actions to Northern District of Illinois for Pretrial Purposes

Four class actions –one each in the Northern and Central Districts of California, the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Michigan – were filed against KFC Corp. and Yum! Brands. In re Kentucky Grilled Chicken Coupon Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 4, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “one or both defendants reneged on a promotion for a new product line of grilled chicken at KFC establishments.” Id. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Illinois. Id. Plaintiffs in each of the class actions opposed centralization but urged, if the Judicial Panel granted the motion, that the class action lawsuits be coordinated in the Central District of California. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting plaintiffs’ argument that “alternatives to centralization, including informal coordination of discovery, are preferable, given that there are only four constituent actions and the issues are relatively straightforward.” Id. On the contrary, the Judicial Panel found that the class actions involved common fact questions and that centralization “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation” in that it “will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (including with respect to class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Panel also concluded that the Northern District of Illinois was the appropriate transferee court as the first-filed class action was brought there and the Chief Judge presiding over that class action “has the time and experience to steer the litigation on a prudent course.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Illinois to that district. Id., at 2.

Download PDF file of In re Kentucky Grilled Chicken Coupon Marketing & Sales Practices Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: January 29, 2010 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re Apple iPhone: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Eastern District Of Louisiana As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 1407 and Selects Movant’s Alternative Transferee Forum Over Competing Request of Other Common Class Action Defendant

Twelve (12) class actions – three in Ohio, two in the Central and Northern Districts of California and one in the Southern District of California, and one in Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota and Missouri – were filed against Apple and AT&T “arising from the advertising and marketing of multimedia message service (MMS) functionality of Apple’s iPhone 3G and 3GS supported by AT&T’s 3G network.” In re Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS “MMS” Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 3, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “Apple and AT&T have engaged in deceptive marketing with respect to the availability of MMS functionality on the iPhone 3G and 3GS.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys for AT&T filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Ohio or the Eastern District of Louisiana. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the class actions pending in the Northern and Southern Districts of California supported consolidation but argued for transfer to the Northern District of California. Id. Plaintiffs in the other nine class actions supported centralization in the Eastern District of Louisiana (though at oral argument one of the Ohio class action plaintiffs requested centralization in Ohio). Id. Common defendant Apple also supported centralization in Ohio, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that this “will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly with respect to class certification issues; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id., at 2. The Panel also determined that the Eastern District of Louisiana was the appropriate transferee court because “[m]ost plaintiffs and the moving defendant, in the alternative, support centralization in this district” and the assignment will be “to an experienced transferee judge who is not currently presiding over another multidistrict litigation docket.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Pennsylvania to that district.

Download PDF file of In re Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS “MMS” Marketing & Sales Practices Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: December 18, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re DirecTV: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiffs’ Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Central District Of California As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Over Objection of One Group of Class Action Plaintiffs, but Transfers Class Actions to Central District of California

Seven class actions were filed in seven different district courts – the Central and Northern Districts of California, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia, the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Western District of Washington – against various DirecTV challenging its early cancellation fee policies. In re DirecTV, Inc., Early Cancellation Fee Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “defendants commit their customers to minimum programming terms without their knowledge or consent and unlawfully charge an early termination fee if the customer cancels service prior to the expiration of that programming term.” Id. Attorneys for plaintiffs in three of the class actions (Florida, Georgia and Washington) filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Western District of Washington; plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania class action and the New Jersey class action supported the motion. Id. Plaintiffs in the Central District of California class action supported the motion but proposed their district as the appropriate transferee court; plaintiffs in the Northern District of California class action opposed centralization. Id. Defense attorneys opposed centralization but alternatively argued for transfer of the class actions to the Central District of California, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting the arguments of the plaintiffs in the Northern District of California. Id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel decided that the Central District of California was the appropriate transferee court, where DirecTV was headquartered. Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of the Central District of California to that district. Id.

Download PDF file of In re DirecTV, Inc., Early Cancellation Fee Marketing & Sales Prac. Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: December 11, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re Sony: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Eastern District Of New York

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Class Actions to Eastern District of New York

Seven class actions – five in the Southern District of New York, and one each in the Eastern District of New York and Eastern District of Texas – were filed against various Sony entities “arising from the performance of the ‘optical block’ of second generation Sony WEGA SXRD rear projection HDTV televisions.” In re Sony Corp. SXRD Rear Projection Television Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “this major component of the subject televisions is inherently defective, causing yellow stains, green haze and other color anomalies that interfere with the television’s display.” Id. Defense attorneys for Sony Corp. of America, Sony Electronics Inc., and Sony Corp. filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Eastern District of New York or, alternatively, in the Southern District of California. Id. None of the class action plaintiffs opposed Sony’s motion or opposed transfer of the class actions to the Eastern District of New York. Id. The Judicial Panel granted Sony’s motion and agreed that the Eastern District of New York was the appropriate transferee court, id., at 1-2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of the Eastern District of New York to that district. Id., at 2.

Download PDF file of In re Sony Corp. SXRD Rear Projection Television Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liab. Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: December 4, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases–In re Cheerios: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiffs’ Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects District Of New Jersey As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Supported by All Responding Parties Despite Disagreement over Appropriate Transferee Court, but Transfers Class Actions to District of New Jersey

Five class actions – two in the Central and one in the Eastern Districts of California and one each in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York – were filed against General Mills alleging false advertising claims arising out of its “labeling of its Cheerios cereals, and, specifically, claims that eating Cheerios can lower a person’s cholesterol.” In re Cheerios Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Plaintiffs in the Eastern and one of the Central District of California class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Eastern District of California. Id. All responding parties supported pretrial coordination, but plaintiffs in the New York class action urged for transfer of the class actions to that district, and common defendant General Mills argued for transfer of the class actions to the District of New Jersey. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, but agreed with defense attorneys that the District of New Jersey was the appropriate transferee court, id. The Panel explained that one of the class action lawsuits already was pending in that district and that “[the judge] presiding over that action[] has the time and experience to steer this litigation on a prudent course.” Id., at 1-2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Pennsylvania to that district. Id., at 2.

Download PDF file of In re Cheerios Marketing & Sales Prac. Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: November 13, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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FSLA Class Action Defense Cases—In re Enterprise: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Western District Of Pennsylvania As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over Objection of Common Class Action Defendants, but Transfers Class Actions to Western District of Pennsylvania

Seven class actions – two in the Northern District of Illinois, and one each in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia, the Southern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania, – were filed against various Enterprise Rent-A-Car entities alleging labor law violations. In re Enterprise Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Employment Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 10, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by misclassifying their assistant managers as salaried and thus not entitled to overtime.” Id. Attorneys for plaintiffs in one of the Illinois class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Illinois, where their class action was pending. Id. “With the exception of plaintiff in the Western District of Pennsylvania action, who urges that the Panel select that district as transferee district, all responding plaintiffs support selection of the Northern District of Illinois. Responding defendants Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co., Inc., and its affiliates, however, oppose centralization, and, if the Panel orders centralization over their objections, ask that the Eastern District of Missouri be selected as transferee district.” Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting defendants’ claims that the various class actions presented individual issues. The Panel explained:

In opposing centralization, defendants argue, inter alia, that the actions do not share factual issues, because individual Enterprise subsidiaries – unique to each state – employed the assistant branch managers and were responsible for classifying them as exempt and ensuring compliance with the FLSA. We are not persuaded by this argument, however, because the record indicates that the involvement vel non of Missouri-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co., Inc., in overseeing its subsidiaries and, in particular, setting policies affecting the employment of assistant managers is, in fact, an open question common to the actions in the litigation. On this and any other common issues, centralization under Section 1407 has the benefit of placing all actions in this docket before a single judge who can structure pretrial proceedings to consider all parties’ legitimate discovery needs, while ensuring that common parties and witnesses are not subjected to discovery demands that duplicate activity that has already occurred or is occurring in other actions.

Id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel rejected the Northern District of Illinois, however, even though it enjoyed wide support, deciding instead that the Western District of Pennsylvania as the appropriate transferee court because “[t]he first-filed action is pending there, and that action is measurably more advanced than either [class action in Illinois],” id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Pennsylvania to that district. Id.

Download PDF file of In re Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Posted On: October 23, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Checking Account Overdraft: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Plaintiff To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Southern District Of Florida

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Despite Certain Plaintiff and Defense Objections, and Transfers Actions to Southern District of Florida

Five class actions – two in California and Florida, and one in New Jersey – were filed against various defendants – including Wachovia Bank, Bank of America and Citibank – “relating to industry-wide bank posting policies and procedures” surrounding overdraft fees. In re Checking Account Overdraft Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 10, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. According to the allegations under the class actions, the various defendant banks had implemented policies and procedures “relating to the imposition of overdraft fees…on their customer’s checking accounts in a manner to maximize these fees.” Id., at 2. Plaintiffs in one of the Florida class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of Florida, id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the New Jersey class action and defendants Wachovia and Bank of America supported the motion, but Bank of America argued for transfer to the Western District of North Carolina. Id. Plaintiffs in the California class actions and defendant Citibank opposed the motion and if the motion were granted argued for centralization in the Northern District of California. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining at page 2: “While there will be some unique questions of fact from bank-to-bank, these actions share sufficient factual questions relating to industry-wide bank posting policies and procedures to warrant centralization of all actions in one MDL docket.” The Panel also agreed that the Southern District of Florida was the appropriate transferee court “because (1) two of the involved actions before the Panel are pending there, and (2) this district has the capacity to manage this MDL proceeding.” Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred the class actions centralized in the Southern District of Florida. Id., at 2-3.

Download PDF file of In re Checking Account Overdraft Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: October 16, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Merrill Lynch: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Southern District Of New York

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Southern District of New York

Four class actions – one each in Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York – were filed against various defendants including Merrill Lynch arising out of “allegations that Merrill Lynch and/or its employees made misrepresentations or omissions in the context of the sale of auction rate securities (ARS) and manipulated the auctions for ARS in order to prevent auction failures.” In re Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Auction Rate Securities (ARS) Marketing Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 10, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations underlying the class action lawsuits, “Merrill Lynch failed to disclose that (1) ARS were not cash alternatives similar to money market funds, and (2) the ARS sold by Merrill Lynch were only liquid because, at the time of sale, Merrill Lynch and other broker-dealers artificially supported and manipulated the market to maintain the appearance of liquidity and stability.” Id., at 1-2. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of New York; plaintiffs in the class actions pending outside of that district opposed the motion. Id., at 1. The Judicial Panel rejected the objections to pretrial coordination and granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that “Centralization under Section 1407 will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Panel also agreed that the Southern District of New York – “where the first-filed has been pending for over a year” – was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel ordered all class actions outside of the Southern District of New York transferred to that district, id., at 34.

Download PDF file of In re Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Auction Rate Securities (ARS) Marketing Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: October 9, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Oppenheimer: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Northern District Of Georgia

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Northern District of Georgia

Thirteen (13) class actions – four in California, four in the Eastern District of New York, three in Colorado and one in the Southern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania – were filed against various defendants including various Oppenheimer entities. In re Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Group Securities Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 17, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. The class actions shared a common basis: “All actions share factual questions relating to (1) the operation of municipal bond markets and their liquidity, (2) the impact of market conditions on the types of assets held in the funds, (3) the risks inherent in certain types of holdings, including tobacco bonds and inverse floaters, (4) whether these types of investments were properly disclosed prior to October 2008, and/or (5) whether the concentration of these and other allegedly risky investments was contrary to the fundamental investment objectives and representations of the Oppenheimer municipal bond funds. Although four different municipal bond funds are involved in these thirteen actions, the investment strategies and public disclosures are similar and all funds are overseen by a common investment manager and distributor/underwriter. Thus, regardless of which municipal bond fund is involved in each action, all actions can be expected to focus on a number of common defendants and/or witnesses.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys for various Oppenheimer defendants filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern or Eastern District of New York, id., at 1. The responses by plaintiffs in the various class actions were all over the map – some opposed the motion, while others supported the motion but requested centralization in Colorado, California, Pennsylvania. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, id., at 2. The Panel also selected the District of Colorado as the appropriate transferee court because “RBSW is headquartered in Atlanta, a significant amount of discovery is likely to take place in that district.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred the Ohio class action to Georgia. Id., at 1-2.

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Posted On: October 2, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re RBS Worldpay: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Northern District Of Georgia

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Northern District of Georgia

Two class actions – one in Georgia and one in Ohio – were filed against various defendants including RBS Worldypay arising out of “an unauthorized intrusion into RBSW’s computer system.” In re RBS Worldpay, Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, the intrusion meant that various personal information (including Social Security numbers) of more than one million holders of gift cards and payroll cards was allegedly compromised.” Id. Defense attorneys for RBS Worldpay filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Georgia; plaintiffs in the Georgia class action supported the motion. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits and agreed that the Northern District of Georgia was the appropriate transferee court because “RBSW is headquartered in Atlanta, a significant amount of discovery is likely to take place in that district.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred the Ohio class action to Georgia. Id., at 1-2.

Download PDF file of In re RBS Worldpay, Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation Transfer Order

Posted On: September 25, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Blood Reagents: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiffs’ Motions To Centralize Class Action Litigation And Transfers Class Actions To Eastern District Of Pennsylvania

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Requests for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs or Common Defendants, and Transfers Actions to Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Ten (10) class actions – eight in New Jersey, one in New York and one in Pennsylvania – were filed against various defendants alleging antitrust violations; specifically, the class action complaints allege “price fixing in a claimed nationwide market for blood reagent products and seek recovery under federal antitrust law” In re Blood Reagents Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 17, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. Twenty (20) related class actions were treated as potential tag-along cases, id., at 1 n.1. Plaintiffs’ lawyers in three of the New Jersey class actions filed two motions with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the District of New Jersey. Id., at 1. The motion for consolidation was not opposed, but the parties proposed various venues for transfer. Responding plaintiffs in other New Jersey class actions supported the motion; responding parties in Pennsylvania class actions, supported the motion but requested transfer to Pennsylvania; responding parties in Texas class actions, together with class actions pending in other states, requested transfer to Texas; still other responding parties requested transfer to Illinois or South Carolina. Id., at 1-2. Certain common defendants requested centralization in Georgia, id., at 2. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits and decided on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as the appropriate transferee court. Id.

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Posted On: September 18, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Madoff-Related Class Action Defense Cases—In re Optimal Strategic: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Southern District Of Florida

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Opposed by New York Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Class Actions to Southern District of Florida

Three class actions – two in Florida and one in New York – were filed against various defendants, including various Banco Santander entities and HSBC entities, alleging securities laws violations; specifically, the class action complaints allege that “defendants failed to perform adequate due diligence before investing money from their fund, Optimal Multiadvisors, Ltd., and some of its sub-funds with Bernard L. Madoff’s investment firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS).” In re Optimal Strategic U.S. Equity Fund Securities Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 11, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys for Banco Santander filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of Florida; plaintiffs in the Florida class actions and attorneys for various HSBC defendants either supported or did not oppose the motion. Id. Plaintiffs in the New York class action opposed centralization, and argued alternatively for transfer to the Southern District of New York. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that “the nature of the due diligence that defendants conducted prior to investing fund assets in BLMIS, all actions will likely focus on a significant number of common events, defendants, and/or witnesses.” Id. The Panel also agreed that the Southern District of Florida was the appropriate transferee court because “[c]ommon defendant Banco Santander International is headquartered in that district and two actions are already pending there, including the first-filed action.” Id. Accordingly, the Judicial Panel ordered the New York class action transferred to the Southern District of Florida, id., at 1-2.

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Posted On: September 11, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Citigroup Securities Litigation: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Southern District Of New York

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Opposed by California Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Class Actions to Southern District of New York

Ten class actions – nine in New York and one in California – were filed against various Citigroup entities alleging securities laws violations “by misleading investors about the nature of Citigroup’s investments and the company’s financial condition.” In re Citigroup Inc. Securities Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 7, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Specifically, the class action complaints alleged that the Citigroup defendants made “material misstatements or omissions in Citigroup’s disclosures about the company’s holdings in and exposures to subprime-related assets.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of New York; attorneys for the California class action plaintiffs opposed the motion. Id., at 1. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits and agreed that the Southern District of New York was the appropriate transferee court because Citigroup is headquartered in that federal district and because nine of the ten class actions “are already pending in the Southern District of New York before one judge who is also presiding over related derivative and ERISA litigation.” Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel ordered the California class action transferred to the Southern District of New York, id.

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Posted On: September 4, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Celexa & Lexapro: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Transfers Class Actions To Massachusetts

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs, but Transfers Class Actions to District not Mentioned by Any of the Parties, the District of Massachusetts

Two class actions – one in Missouri and one in New York – were filed against various defendants, including Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals alleging that defendants “engaged in false and misleading promotion of Celexa and Lexapro for pediatric or adolescent use and sought to induce physicians and others to prescribe Celexa or Lexapro by providing them with various forms of illegal remuneration.” In re Celexa & Lexapro Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 19, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1-2]. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Eastern District of New York; plaintiffs in the New York class action supported the motion, and plaintiffs in the Missouri class action ultimately did not object to transfer to the Eastern District of New York. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in a potential tag-along class action pending in the Southern District of New York requested transfer to that district, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits but selected the District of Massachusetts as the appropriate transferee court. Id. The Panel explained at page 2, “The two qui tam actions that apparently spawned the actions now before the Panel are pending in the District of Massachusetts. Also, centralization in this district permits the Panel to assign the litigation to an experienced judge who is not presently overseeing another multidistrict litigation docket and who has a caseload relatively favorable for this assignment.”

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Posted On: August 28, 2009 by Michael J. Hassen Email This Post

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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Park West Galleries: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Western District Of Washington As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over the Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs, but Transfers Class Actions to Western District of Washington

Four class actions – two in Florida and one each in Michigan and Washington – were filed against various defendants, including Park West Galleries and Fine Art Sales, alleging “that defendants operated a fraudulent scheme to sell fake, worthless, or low-value artwork at shipboard auctions or in private sales through the use of phony appraisals and/or other sales-related documentation.” In re Park West Galleries, Inc., Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 11, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Eastern District of Michigan; defense attorneys for the Holland America entities – “the only cruise line defendants” – did not oppose the motion, but the Panel noted that they were parties only in the Washington class action. Id. Plaintiffs in one of the Florida class actions and in the Washington class action opposed the motion, or requested transfer to the districts in which their respective class action was pending. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits but concluded that the Western District of Washington was the appropriate transferee court because “[that] action is measurably more advanced than the action pending in the Eastern District of Michigan, the forum favored by moving defendants.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel ordered the class actions outside of Washington transferred to the Western District of Washington. Id., at 1-2.

Download PDF file of In re Park West Galleries, Inc., Marketing & Sales Prac. Litigation Transfer Order