Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request, Opposed by Plaintiffs, for Pretrial Coordination of 4 Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, but Transfers Actions to Eastern District of Tennessee
Four class action lawsuits, 2 in the Middle District of Tennessee and 2 in the Eastern District of Tennessee, were filed against various defendants alleging antitrust violations for failing to “compete for the purchase of raw Grade A milk produced, marketed and processed in the Southeast United States.” In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. January 7, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys in all four class actions moved the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) for centralization of the class action litigation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Middle District of Tennessee. Id. Plaintiffs in the class actions pending in the Middle District of Tennessee supported the defense motion, as did plaintiffs for one of the class actions pending in the Eastern District of Tennessee, id. Plaintiff’s lawyer in the other Eastern District class action opposed pretrial coordination, and argued alternatively for transfer to the Eastern District. Id. The Judicial Panel rejected the argument that “discovery will likely be straightforward” so centralization was unnecessary, id., at 1-2. And while the Panel supported all voluntary efforts to coordinate the various class actions, this did not defeat the motion, id., at 2. But even though the Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, and though it agreed that either district court would be workable as a transferee court, it noted that there were “[v]arious conflict and caseload concerns within the Middle District [that] made transfer there difficult.” Id. Accordingly, it granted the defense motion and transferred the class action litigation to the Eastern District of Tennessee.