Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Other Class Action Plaintiffs or Defendants, but Rejects Southern District of Florida in Favor of District of Puerto Rico as Appropriate Transferee Court
Five class actions – three in the Southern District of Florida, one in the Middle District of Florida and one in the District of Puerto Rico – were filed against Horizon Lines and others alleging “that defendants conspired to fix prices of cabotage services to and from Puerto Rico in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.” In re Puerto Rican Cabotage Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 13, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Lawyers for plaintiffs in one of the Southern District of Florida class actions 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 Southern District of Florida. Id. No responding party opposed pretrial coordination but the parties could not agree on an appropriate transferee court, arguing various for the Southern District of Florida, the Middle District of Florida, the Eastern District of Louisiana, or the District of Puerto Rico. Id. The Judicial Panel also was advised that 18 additional class actions had been filed – 10 in Puerto Rico, and four each in the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida – and the Panel treated these as tag-along cases. Id., at 1 n.1. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits and, after noting that the District of Puerto Rico or the Southern or Middle Districts of Florida would be appropriate transferee courts, decided upon the District of Puerto Rico because 11 actions are pending in that district already and because centralization in that court will “achieve the dual benefits of convenience and of spreading the workload of multidistrict litigation cases..” Id., at 1-2.