Over Objection of Defendants in Products Liability Individual and Class Action Lawsuits, Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Request for Pretrial Coordination of Individual and Class Action Cases Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Transfers Actions to District of Minnesota
Fifteen (15) individual and class action lawsuits were filed in seven (7) different federal district courts against Johnson & Johnson, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, among others, alleging “that the antibiotic Levaquin causes tendon rupture, and the warnings provided by defendants informing Levaquin users of this risk were inadequate”; an additional six (6) individual and class action lawsuits subsequently were filed and were treated as tag-along actions by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). In re Levaquin Products Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 13, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Plaintiffs in 14 of the individual and class action lawsuits filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the District of Minnesota, where the majority of the lawsuits (8 of the 15 cases before the Panel and 2 of the tag-along actions) already were pending; defense attorneys opposed pretrial coordination of the class action and individual lawsuits, and alternatively argued for transfer to the District of New Jersey. Id. The Judicial Panel granted plaintiffs’ motion, agreeing that the lawsuits raise common questions of fact and that centralization “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” Id. The Panel rejected defense arguments that the parties could address common discovery without pretrial coordination, explaining that the 15 actions, presently pending in 7 districts scattered across the country, “are nearly identical in terms of defendants’ alleged conduct, and discovery and other pretrial efforts will undoubtedly overlap. “ Id. The Panel also rejected the defense request for transfer to New Jersey, explaining at page 2: “Eight actions, including the first-filed action, are pending [in Minnesota], and discovery is already underway in those actions.” Accordingly, the Panel ordered the individual and class action lawsuits transferred to the District of Minnesota. Id., at 2.