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Class Action Defense Cases—In re Merrill Lynch: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Unopposed Defense Motion To Centralize Individual And Class Action Litigation In Southern District Of New York

Judicial Panel Grants Defense Motion for Pretrial Coordination of Individual and Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Individual and Class Action Plaintiffs and Supported by Some Responding Individual and Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Southern District of New York

Eighteen (18) individual and class action lawsuits were filed (1 in New Jersey and 17 in New York) against Merrill Lynch and other defendants “arising from Merrill Lynch’s conduct and representations regarding its investments in collateralized debt obligations secured by subprime mortgage debt.” In re Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., Securities, Derivative & “ERISA” Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 7, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. The individual and class action complaints were “brought by securities holders seeking relief under the federal securities laws, shareholders suing derivatively on behalf of Merrill Lynch, [and] participants in retirement savings plans suing for violations of ERISA,” id. Defense attorneys for Merrill Lynch filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the individual and class action cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Southern District of New York; no responding party opposed the motion, and some individual and class action plaintiffs supported the motion. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the individual and class action lawsuits, finding common questions of fact and law despite the diversity of the types of actions at issue, id. The Panel also agreed with defense attorneys that the Southern District of New York was the appropriate transferee court because “Merrill Lynch is headquartered in New York and, therefore, discovery is likely to take place there” and because “all actions save one are already pending in that district.” Id., at 1.

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