Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Requests for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by other Class Action Plaintiffs and Unopposed by any Class Action Defendants, but Among Various Options Selects Eastern District of Michigan as Transferee Court
Thirty-seven (37) class actions – twelve actions in the Eastern District of Michigan, ten actions in the District of Minnesota, seven actions in the Northern District of Texas, four actions in the Northern District of Ohio, and one action each in the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the District of Kansas and the Southern District of Ohio – were filed against various defendants, including Reddy Ice Holdings, Reddy Ice, Arctic Glacier Income Fund, Arctic Glacier, Inc., Arctic Glacier International, and Home City Ice, alleging antitrust violations. In re Packaged Ice Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 10, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Specifically, the 37 class actions, and 28 related class actions that were treated as tag-along cases, see id. n.3, “conspired to allocate markets and to fix, raise, maintain and/or stabilize the price of packaged ice in the United States, in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.” Id., at 1-2. Plaintiffs in 9 of the class actions separately filed 5 motions with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, but the moving parties did not agree among themselves on the proper venue for transfer. Id., at 1. The Judicial Panel explained at page 1, “Moving and responding plaintiffs variously support centralization in the following districts: the Southern District of California, the Eastern District of Michigan, the District of Minnesota, the Northern District of Ohio, or the Northern District of Texas. Responding defendants support centralization in the District of Minnesota.” (Footnote omitted.)
The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that they involved common questions of act and that centralization “will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (especially with respect to the issue of class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id., at 1-2. With respect to selecting the proper transferee court, the Panel recognized that “any number of the proposed transferee forums would be acceptable,” but it selected the Eastern District of Michigan because it “offers a relatively geographically central district with favorable caseload conditions” and because more of the pending and tag-along class action cases had been filed in that district than in any other. Id., at 2. Moreover, “the grand jury investigating the packaged ice industry is based in this district.” Id.