Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Supported by All Responding Parties including Other Class Action Plaintiffs and Countrywide Defendants, but Transfers Class Actions to Western District of Kentucky
Six class actions –three in California, two in Florida, and one in Missouri – were filed against Bank of America and various Countrywide entities, together with other defendants, alleging violations of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In re Countrywide Financial Corp. Customer Data Security Breach Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 2, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1 and n.2.]. Specifically, the class action complaints alleged that Countrywide failed “to limit access to and/or adequately safeguard private customer information” in violation of the FCRA, id., at 2. Plaintiff 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 Western District of Missouri or the District of Kansas. Id., at 1. All responding parties, which included more than 20 of the 26 plaintiffs in related “tag-along” class action lawsuits, supported centralization, and while some of the class action plaintiffs requested transfer to California, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina or Ohio, the vast majority – including more than 20 plaintiffs tag-along class actions and the Countrywide defendants – supported transfer to the District of Kansas. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, but rejected each of the district requested by the parties. Id., at 2. The Judicial Panel concluded, “Given that this litigation involves 32 known actions pending throughout the United States, any number of districts would be an appropriate transferee forum.” Id. And without discussion or explanation, the Panel selected the Western District of Kentucky as the transferee court, id.