Judicial Panel Grants Request, Over Defense Objection, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Transfers Class Actions to District of Minnesota, but Panel Refuses Joint Request to Circumscribe Authority of Transferee Court
Hundreds of lawsuits, many of them putative class actions, were filed against C.H. Robinson Worldwide alleging failure to pay overtime in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In re C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., Overtime Pay Litig., 502 F.Supp.2d 1347, 2007 WL 2068113, *1 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2007). Plaintiff’s lawyers in more than 100 of the actions 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 Northern District of Illinois or the District of Minnesota, id. Defense attorneys for the lone defendant initially opposed pretrial coordination, but subsequently joined in a request that the Panel centralize the litigation “for the limited purpose of obtaining settlement approval.” Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class actions and selected the District of Minnesota because 25% of the pending actions were pending in that district and because of the familiarity of court who has been “presiding over two related action for the past five years,” id.; but the Panel refused “to circumscribe the breadth of the pretrial proceedings as requested by the parties, leaving such matters to the discretion of the transferee judge,” id.