Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of Texas but Excludes two Class Actions from the Scope of its Transfer Order
Four class actions – in the District of Arizona, the Southern District of Indiana, the Northern District of Mississippi and the Northern District of Texas – were filed against Indianapolis Life and others alleging In re Indianapolis Life Ins. Co. I.R.S. § 412(i) Plans Life Ins. Marketing Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 7, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Specifically, the class action complaints alleged claims “relating to (1) the design, marketing and sale of life insurance policies used by plaintiffs to fund defined benefit pension plans for their small businesses which were represented to be in compliance with U.S. Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) § 412(i), and (2) the alleged failure by defendants to disclose that the I.R.S. might deem these policies to be invalid tax shelters.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys for common defendant Indianapolis Life and its related entities 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 Northern District of Texas as to the four class actions in which it was a defendant; certain class action defendants joined this motion, while other class action defendants simply did not oppose the motion. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the Texas class action and in the Arizona class action supported the motion for pretrial coordination but argued for the District of Arizona as the appropriate transferee court. Id. Plaintiffs in the Mississippi class action and the Indiana class action, on the other hand, opposed inclusion of their cases in any centralization order, id. Additionally, two defendants in the Arizona class action opposed the motion for pretrial coordination, id.
The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits involving Indianapolis Life, but agreed it would not promote the interests of justice to include the Mississippi class action or the Indiana class action within the scope of its order because of the “the advanced stage of pretrial proceedings.” In re Indianapolis Life, at 2. The Panel further concluded that the Northern District of Texas was the appropriate transferee court “because (1) the judge assigned to the action pending there has a relatively low caseload, and (2) this action is progressing well.” Id.