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Class Action Defense Cases—In re CitiFinancial: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff’s Motion Supported By Defense To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Northern District of Illinois

Judicial Panel Agrees with Plaintiffs and Defense that Class Action Cases Warranted Pretrial Coordination Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Rejecting Arguments of Sole Plaintiff’s Lawyer in Opposition to Request

Five class action lawsuits (Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri and Wisconsin) were filed against CitiFinancial Services and others alleging that certain prescreened mailings from Citifinancial violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) because defendants improperly used consumer reports for purposes of mailing prescreened offers of credit for loans to plaintiffs and potential class members. In re CitiFinancial Servs. Inc. Prescreened Offer Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2007 WL 549358, *1 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. February 15, 2007). Plaintiffs’ lawyers in the Connecticut and Illinois class actions moved the Judicial Panel filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the five class action lawsuits pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Illinois. Defense attorneys for the common defendant (CitiFinancial) and plaintiff’s lawyer in the Massachusetts class action supported the motion; the Wisconsin plaintiff opposed centralization. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class actions and agreed that the Northern District of Illinois was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at *2.

The Judicial Panel rejected the objection that the classes and issues of fact in the five class actions did not overlap, explaining at page *1:

Regardless of any differences among the actions, they raise common factual questions regarding Citifinancial’s prescreening practices. Transfer under Section 1407 has the salutary effect of placing all actions in this docket before a single judge who can formulate a pretrial program that: 1) allows discovery with respect to any non-common issues to proceed concurrently with discovery on common issues, In re Joseph F. Smith Patent Litigation, 407 F.Supp. 1403, 1404 (J.P.M.L. 1976); and 2) ensures that pretrial proceedings will be conducted in a streamlined manner leading to the just and expeditious resolution of all actions to the overall benefit of the parties and the judiciary.

Download PDF file of In re CitiFinancial Transfer Order