Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants § 1407 Motion Over Defense Objection Finding Centralization Particularly Helpful With Respect to Class Certification Issues Presented by Numerous Putative Nationwide Class Actions
Numerous lawsuits – almost all of them putative nationwide class action cases – were filed against H & R Block, Inc., H & R Block Financial Advisors, Inc. and H & R Block Tax Services, Inc. alleging that the manner in which they marketed and sold defendants’ Express Individual Retirement Account product breached fiduciary duties owed their clients. A motion to consolidate pretrial proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 was filed; the defense opposed the motion to centralize the actions. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) granted the motion over the defense objection, finding that centralize “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” In re H & R Block, Inc., Express IRA Marketing Litig., 444 F.Supp.2d 1339, 1340 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2006). In fact, the Panel believed that such centralization was required “in order to eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (particularly with respect to the issue of class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. (italics added). Accordingly, the Panel transferred the cases to the Western District of Missouri, noting that most of the lawsuits were pending in that district and that it was the location of H & R Block’s corporate headquarters. Id., at 1341.