Judicial Panel Denies Plaintiff Request, Objected to by Defense Attorneys and Other Plaintiff’s Counsel, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 because Only Three Class Actions were Pending, Issues were not “Sufficiently Complex and/or Numerous” to Warrant Centralization, and Alternatives Existed to Minimize Risk of Duplicative Discovery or Inconsistent Pretrial Rulings
Three class action lawsuits were filed against Circuit City (one in California, one in Florida and one in New York) arising out of defendants’ business practices in charging restocking fees; California plaintiff’s lawyer 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 the Middle District of Florida, or alternatively in California or New York. In re Circuit City Stores, Inc., Restocking Fee Sales Practices Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 14, 2007) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys opposed pretrial coordination of the class action lawsuits, and New York plaintiff’s lawyer opposed the motion (alternatively requesting centralization in New York). Id. The Judicial Panel denied the motion, stating that “Section 1407 centralization would not necessarily serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” and finding that California plaintiff’s lawyer had failed to demonstrate that “any common questions of fact are sufficiently complex and/or numerous to justify Section 1407 transfer in this docket at this time.” Id. The Panel additionally observed that “[a]lternatives to transfer exist that can minimize whatever possibilities there might be of duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel refused to centralization the class actions. Id., at 1-2.
NOTE: The fact that this motion involved only three class action lawsuits was not dispositive: We have summarized opinions where the MDL Judicial Panel has centralized litigation involving only two or three pending lawsuits.