Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request, Over Objection of Certain Plaintiffs, for Pretrial Coordination of ERISA Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Concurs with Defense Request to Transfer Class Actions to Northern District of Texas
Four class action lawsuits – there in the Northern District of Texas and one in the Eastern District of Texas – were filed against RadioShack and other defendants alleging breach of fiduciary duties under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In re RadioShack Corp. “ERISA” Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 22, 2007) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys 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 Texas, id. Plaintiff lawyers for the Northern District of Texas class action did not oppose pretrial coordination but argued that the Eastern District of Texas was the appropriate transferee court; plaintiff lawyers for the Eastern District of Texas class action opposed pretrial coordination but argued alternatively for transfer to the Eastern District of Texas. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the defense motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that the various class action complaints present “common factual questions [that] clearly predominate over any unique questions of fact” and that centralization “will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent rulings on pretrial motions, especially with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Panel also agreed with defense attorneys that the Northern District of Texas was the appropriate transferee court because three of the four class actions are pending there and RadioShack is headquartered in that district. Id., at 2.