Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Opposed by New York Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Class Actions to Southern District of Florida
Three class actions – two in Florida and one in New York – were filed against various defendants, including various Banco Santander entities and HSBC entities, alleging securities laws violations; specifically, the class action complaints allege that “defendants failed to perform adequate due diligence before investing money from their fund, Optimal Multiadvisors, Ltd., and some of its sub-funds with Bernard L. Madoff’s investment firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS).” In re Optimal Strategic U.S. Equity Fund Securities Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 11, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys for Banco Santander 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; plaintiffs in the Florida class actions and attorneys for various HSBC defendants either supported or did not oppose the motion. Id. Plaintiffs in the New York class action opposed centralization, and argued alternatively for transfer to the Southern District of New York. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that “the nature of the due diligence that defendants conducted prior to investing fund assets in BLMIS, all actions will likely focus on a significant number of common events, defendants, and/or witnesses.” Id. The Panel also agreed that the Southern District of Florida was the appropriate transferee court because “[c]ommon defendant Banco Santander International is headquartered in that district and two actions are already pending there, including the first-filed action.” Id. Accordingly, the Judicial Panel ordered the New York class action transferred to the Southern District of Florida, id., at 1-2.