Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request, Over Plaintiffs’ Objections, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Agrees With Defense that District of Minnesota is Appropriate Transferee Court
Twenty-eight class action lawsuits were filed in 27 districts against various defendants, including KFC Corp. alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for failure to pay assistant managers overtime pay. In re KFC Corp. Fair Labor Standards Act Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. January 3, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys for KFC 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 District of Minnesota; plaintiffs in each of the class actions opposed pretrial coordination. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting plaintiffs’ central argument that most discovery already had been completed, id. The Panel explained at page 1, “Discovery and motion practice with respect to the common factual questions regarding the propriety of KFC’s employment practices and compliance with the FLSA and related state laws remains. Centralization 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 ensures streamlined resolution of all actions to the benefit of the parties and the judiciary.” Id. The Judicial Panel also agreed with the defense that the District of Minnesota was the appropriate transferee court because “[a]ll actions now before the Panel arise from the decertification of a conditionally certified nationwide collective action filed in the District of Minnesota…, which has been pending for over two years.” Id., at 1-2. Accordingly, the Panel ordered that all actions pending outside Minnesota be transferred there, id., at 2.