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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Aurora Dairy: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation But Selects Eastern District Of Missouri As Transferee Court

Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request, over Defense Objection, for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, but Transfers Class Actions to Eastern District of Missouri

Four class action lawsuits (2 in Colorado and 1 each in Florida and Missouri), each of which were filed as putative nationwide class actions, were filed against various Aurora Dairy Corp. alleging “Aurora misled them into believing that the milk they purchased was ‘organic’ or ‘USDA organic’ when in fact the milk failed to meet organic standards.” In re Aurora Dairy Corp. Organic Milk Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. February 20, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Plaintiffs in one of the Colorado 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 District of Colorado, id. Defense attorneys for common defendant Aurora opposed pretrial coordination, but alternatively supported Colorado as the transferee court; other plaintiffs also supported Colorado as the transferee court, but plaintiffs in the Missouri action supported centralization in that district. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, easily concluding that this will promote efficient handling of the litigation, id. In so holding, the Panel rejected defense arguments that centralization was unnecessary because “voluntary alternatives to Section 1407 are superior,” id., at 2. But the Judicial Panel selected the Easter District of Missouri as the transferee court, explaining that it was home to the first-filed class action and that “[g]iven the geographic dispersal of the constituent actions and the potential tag-along actions, the Eastern District of Missouri offers a relatively convenient forum for this litigation.” Id

Download PDF file of In re Aurora Dairy Corp. Organic Milk Transfer Order