Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request, Unopposed by Plaintiffs, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 but Elects to Transfer Class Actions to Western District of Arkansas
Five class action lawsuits (two in Alabama, and one in Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas) were filed against Pilgrim’s Pride by current and former employees alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In re Pilgrim’s Pride Fair Labor Standards Act Litig., 489 F.Supp.2d 1381, 1381 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. May 10, 2007). 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 either the Eastern District of Texas or the Western District of Arkansas; plaintiffs agreed that pretrial coordination was appropriate, but disagreed with the defense and with each other as to the appropriate transferee court. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that “[t]he actions share questions of fact arising out of similar allegations that certain employees of pilgrim’s Pride are entitled to compensation under the [FLSA].” Id. The Panel selected the Western District of Arkansas as the transferee court because it did not have any other MDL cases pending and its docket permits it to bring to bear the resources necessary to manage the class action litigation, and because the Arkansas court enjoyed wide, if not unanimous, support of the parties. Id., at 1381-82.