MDL Judicial Panel Grants Defense Motion To Eliminate Duplicative Discovery, Prevent Inconsistent Rulings, and Conserve Resources of Parties and Court in Pretrial Proceedings of Class Action Cases
Three class action lawsuits were filed against Ocean Financial Corp. and its subsidiary Ocean Bank, F.S.B. alleging violations under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.) in that defendants purportedly used consumer reports “for purposes of mailing prescreened offers of credit for home equity loans to plaintiffs and potential class members.” In re Ocean Financial Corp. Prescreening Litigation, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, ___, 2006 WL 1737553 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit., June 21, 2006). The class actions had been filed in the Northern District of Illinois, the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the District of Rhode Island, and the Judicial Panel found that there was overlap among the putative members of each class action. The defense filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 for coordination or consolidation of the class actions for purposes of pretrial proceedings. On June 21, 2006, the MDL Judicial Panel granted the unopposed defense motion, holding that the class actions would benefit from such treatment:
On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, the Panel finds that these three actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization under Section 1407 in the Northern District of Illinois will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. . . . Centralization under Section 1407 is necessary in order to eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.
In re Ocean Financial Corp., at ___.
NOTE: The MDL Panel’s ruling is not surprising. We summarize this case to provide an example of consolidation/coordination motions and orders for attorneys unfamiliar with the procedure.