Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Certain Class Action Plaintiffs but Opposed by Others, but Concludes Class Actions should be Transferred to Southern District of Florida
Eighteen class actions were filed in 14 different federal district courts against various defendants, including Bayer Corp., Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Healthcare, LLC, Bayer AG, and Bayer Healthcare AG (collectively “Bayer”), alleging product liability claims based on the safety of the Bayer drug Trasylol. In re Trasylol Products Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 7, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Additionally, another 18 class action lawsuits had been filed and were treated as tag-along cases by the court. Id., at 1 n.2. Defense attorneys for Bayer 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 District of Connecticut or, alternatively, the Northern District of Georgia. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in 6 of the class actions before the court and in 2 of the potential tag-along cases supported pre-trial coordination, but argued for various other districts as the appropriate transferee court; plaintiffs in 4 of the class actions before the court an in one of the potential tag-along cases opposed centralization. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, explaining: “All actions share factual questions regarding the safety profile of the drug Trasylol, which is used to reduce blood loss in patients during coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and the warnings given by Bayer about the drug. Centralization under Section 1407 will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id., at 1-2. However, the Panel rejected defendants’ proposed transferee courts and concluded, instead, that while “any number” of the various proposed forums “could suitably serve as the transferee court,” the class actions should be transferred to the Southern District of Florida because it “currently has a relatively low number of MDL dockets and offers an accessible metropolitan location” and because of the experience of the district court judge to whom the matters were being assigned. Id., at 2.