Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Despite Certain Plaintiff and Defense Objections, and Transfers Actions to Southern District of Florida
Five class actions – two in California and Florida, and one in New Jersey – were filed against various defendants – including Wachovia Bank, Bank of America and Citibank – “relating to industry-wide bank posting policies and procedures” surrounding overdraft fees. In re Checking Account Overdraft Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 10, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. According to the allegations under the class actions, the various defendant banks had implemented policies and procedures “relating to the imposition of overdraft fees…on their customer’s checking accounts in a manner to maximize these fees.” Id., at 2. Plaintiffs in one of the Florida class actions 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, id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the New Jersey class action and defendants Wachovia and Bank of America supported the motion, but Bank of America argued for transfer to the Western District of North Carolina. Id. Plaintiffs in the California class actions and defendant Citibank opposed the motion and if the motion were granted argued for centralization in the Northern District of California. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining at page 2: “While there will be some unique questions of fact from bank-to-bank, these actions share sufficient factual questions relating to industry-wide bank posting policies and procedures to warrant centralization of all actions in one MDL docket.” The Panel also agreed that the Southern District of Florida was the appropriate transferee court “because (1) two of the involved actions before the Panel are pending there, and (2) this district has the capacity to manage this MDL proceeding.” Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred the class actions centralized in the Southern District of Florida. Id., at 2-3.