Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Responding Defendants, and Agrees with Defendants that District of New Jersey is Appropriate Transferee Court
Thirty-three (33) class actions lawsuits were filed in 17 federal district courts against numerous defendants, including various Merck and Schering-Plough entities, arising out of the use and/or marketing of the drugs Vytorin and/or Zetia. In re Vytorin/Zetia Marketing, Sales Practices & Products Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 8, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1-2]. (An additional 67 class actions were filed, and were treated as tag-along cases by the court. Id., at 1-2 n.3.) Plaintiffs’ lawyers in 11 of the class actions filed 5 separate motions with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, but they did not agree on the appropriate transferee court; when the recommendations of responding class action plaintiffs also were considered, the plaintiffs in the various class actions had proposed 10 different districts. Id., at 1. Defense attorneys for the responding Merck and Schering-Plough defendants did not oppose centralization, but argued for the District of New Jersey, where 12 of the class actions already were pending, as the appropriate transferee court, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits and agreed that the District of New Jersey was the appropriate transferee court because Merck and Schering-Plough are headquartered in that district and because transfer of the class actions to that district was supported by the responding defendants and by several of the class action plaintiffs. Id., at 2.