Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over Objection of Certain Class Action Plaintiffs and Defendants and Objection of Common Defendant, but Transfers Class Actions Back to Central District of California, Where Class Actions Originally had been Filed
Five nationwide class actions were filed in five different federal courts against common defendant Amgen and various other defendants; the class action lawsuits “concern[ed] Amgen’s marketing of its Epogen and Aranesp anemia drugs, and they also all involve alleged violations of California statutory law.” In re Epogen & Aranesp Off-Label Marketing & Sales Practices Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 8, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Plaintiff’s lawyer in the Illinois class action 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 Northern District of Illinois; plaintiffs in both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey class actions supported the motion. Id. The California class action plaintiffs opposed the motion, as did two defendants in the California class action. Id. Common defendant Amgen also opposed the motion, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, concluding that centralization “will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (particularly regarding class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Judicial Panel held, however, that the class actions should be transferred to the Central District of California rather than Illinois. Id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel noted that “This is an unusual docket because the four actions pending outside the Central District of California were originally brought in that district and then transferred to their current respective districts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404. Nevertheless, we conclude that the transfer of these same cases back to the Central District of California is appropriate.” In re Epogen & Aranesp, at 1. The Court explained that this was not a conflict because “the considerations affecting transfer under Section 1404 are not the same as those affecting transfer under Section 1407,” id., at 2.