Faced with Two Motions to Centralize Class Actions, Judicial Panel Grants Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Agrees with Defendants that the Southern District of Texas is the Appropriate Forum for the Class Actions
Seven class actions –two in Massachusetts; and one each in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas – were filed against various defendants including VistaPrint, Vertrue and Adaptive Marketing, alleging violations of the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act and the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act. In re VistaPrint Corp. Marketing & Sales Practices Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 11, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Two separate motions were filed with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407; plaintiffs in one of the Massachusetts class actions, supported by plaintiff in the other Massachusetts class action, sought central in the Massachusetts federal court; at oral argument it was asserted that plaintiffs in the remaining class actions supported this request. Id. Defense attorneys for Vertrue and Adaptive Marketing, on the other hand, argued for centralization of the class actions in the Southern District of Texas, and the VistaPrint defendants supported this request. Id. The Judicial Panel agreed to centralize the class action lawsuits: “All actions share factual questions arising out of allegations that (1) the Adaptive defendants improperly enrolled VistaPrint customers in online membership programs, a practice referred to as “cramming;” and (2) this practice caused unauthorized charges to be made on customers’ credit and debit accounts in violation of the federal Electronic Fund Transfer Act and/or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.” Id. Centralization of the class actions would thus serve the purposes of Section 1407, “especially on the issue of class certification.” Id. With respect to forum, the Judicial Panel acknowledged that “either of the proposed districts would be an appropriate transferee forum,” but selected the Southern District of Texas, because “(1) the first-filed action is pending there, and (2) Adaptive Marketing has an office in Houston, Texas, and relevant documents and witnesses may be found there.” Id., at 2.