Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of 38 Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, and Transfers Actions to Northern District of Ohio even though Only One of the Class Actions was Pending in that District
Thirty-eight (38) class actions were filed against common defendant C.B. Fleet (Fleet) and various defendants alleging products liability claims; specifically, the class action complaints allege oral sodium phosphate solution-based (OSPS) products by Fleet were unsafe and caused personal injuries because they “high doses of OSPS products could lead to acute phosphate nephropathy, a type of kidney injury, and that Fleet knew of the risks associated with high doses of OSPS but downplayed or obscured those risks.” In re Oral Sodium Phosphate Solution-Based Products Liability Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 23, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. Defense attorneys for Fleet 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 Ohio – 13 of the class actions were pending in Arizona, 4 class actions were pending in Georgia, 3 class actions were pending in California, Colorado and Florida, and 2 class actions were pending in Minnesota, but only one lawsuit had been filed in the Northern District of Ohio. Id., at 1. As one might expect from the number of class actions involved, the view of responding plaintiffs ranged from full support to objections and requests for exclusion from any centralization order, see id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting the argument by some plaintiffs that “their actions are too far advanced to warrant inclusion in the centralized proceedings.” Id., at 2. The Panel left to the discretion of the transferee court the resolution of such issues, id. The Judicial Panel also agreed that the Northern District of Ohio was the appropriate transferee court, even though only one action was currently pending in that district, and accordingly it ordered all other actions transferred to that district. Id., at 2-3.