Unopposed Defense Motion to Centralization of Individual and Class Action Lawsuits Based on Book “A Million Little Pieces” Granted
Following the disclosure of false information in James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces¸ and the filing of at least a dozen individual and class action lawsuits alleging “various state statutory and common law claims, such as negligence, consumer fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment,” defense attorneys for Random House and Doubleday moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 for an order centralizing for pretrial purposes all pending and tag-along lawsuits in the Southern District of New York. In re “A Million Little Pieces” Litig., 435 F.Supp.2d 1336, 1337-38 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2006). Centralization was unopposed, though the plaintiffs did not agree on the appropriate transferee court. The Judicial Panel granted the motion, noting that the lawsuits “share allegations” including “that the book contained material fabrications” and “that advertisements and marketing concerning the book were false and misleading, inasmuch as the book was marketed as a work on nonfiction.” Id., at 1337-38. The Panel agreed with defense attorneys that the Southern District of New York was an appropriate transferee court. Id., at 1338.
NOTE: We summarize this order for the purpose of noting that soon after the actions were centralized the parties reached a proposed settlement for resolution of the litigation. The author believes that this is one of the main benefits of centralization under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 – the defense is far more likely to agree to a settlement when it will dispose of all pending litigation rather than trying to reach piecemeal resolutions in various lawsuits, particularly when the settlement reached in one lawsuit may be used as a floor for settlement discussions by plaintiffs’ attorneys in the other lawsuits.