Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Request for Pretrial Coordination of 24 Class Action and Individual Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, but Concludes that Northern District of Ohio, rather than Southern District of Ohio, was Appropriate Transferee Court
Twenty-four class action lawsuits were filed in 13 different districts against various defendants, including General Electric, Bayer Healthcare, Tyco and Bracco Diagnostics, “arising out of the allegation that gadolinium based contrast dyes may cause nephrogenic systemic fibrosis in patients with impaired renal function.” In re Gadolinium Contrast Dyes Prods. Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. February 27, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1-2]. Lawyers for plaintiffs’ in 12 of the class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the litigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of Ohio; attorneys for a significant portion of the defense group supported pretrial coordination but argued that the Northern District of Ohio was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 1. Defense attorneys for the Bracco defendants opposed centralization, arguing that “(1) the actions do not share sufficient questions of fact because each of the contrast agents is chemically and pharmacologically different; (2) because of the unique properties of each contrast agent, a global MDL will impinge upon the due process rights of the separate defendant companies; (3) when each defendant group is considered separately, there are too few actions to warrant MDL treatment for any claims other than those involving the GE defendants; and (4) alternatives to centralization are available and sufficient to coordinate the small number of claims involving Bracco and the Tyco and Bayer defendants.” Id., at 2. The Judicial Panel disagreed, holding that the efficiencies sought to be achieved by Section 1407 warranted pretrial coordination and explaining that the district court will be able to appropriately direct the proceedings. Id., at 2-3. The Panel also agreed with the defense request to transfer the class actions to the Northern District of Ohio, id., at 3.