Judicial Panel Denies Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 because Only Two Class Actions were Pending, Issues were not “Sufficiently Complex and/or Numerous” to Warrant Centralization, and Alternatives Existed to Minimize Risk of Duplicative Discovery or Inconsistent Pretrial Rulings
Two class action lawsuits were filed against Best Buy Stores and Best Buy Co. (one in Florida and one in Illinois) arising out of defendants’ business practices in charging restocking fees; Illinois plaintiff’s lawyer 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. In re Best Buy Co., Inc., Restocking Fee Sales Practices Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 14, 2007) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys opposed pretrial coordination of the class action lawsuits, and the Judicial Panel agreed with the defense that “Section 1407 centralization would not necessarily serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” Id. The MDL Panel found that the moving party had failed to demonstrate that “any common questions of fact are sufficiently complex and/or numerous to justify Section 1407 transfer in this docket at this time,” and observed that “[a]lternatives to transfer exist that can minimize whatever possibilities there might be of duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel refused to centralization the class actions. Id., at 1-2.
NOTE: The fact that this motion involved only two class action lawsuits was not dispositive: We have summarized opinions where the MDL Judicial Panel had centralized litigation involving only two or three pending lawsuits.