Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over Objection of Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Central District of California
Eight class actions – three in California and one each in Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington and Wisconsin – were filed against Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC alleging that “geometry alignment defect that causes uneven and premature tire wear on model year 2005 and 2006 Land Rover LR3s.” In re Land Rover LR3 Tire Wear Products Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. February 23, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. A related class action was filed in Connecticut, and the Judicial Panel treated that class action as a potential tag-along case, id., at 1 n.1. Defense attorneys 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 Central District of California; all responding plaintiffs opposed centralization, and alternatively argued that the District of New Jersey was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 1. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding this will “eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including those with respect to issues of class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Panel agreed further that the Central District of California was the appropriate transferee court because “the first-filed and most procedurally advanced actions are pending there” and because that district court “has gained familiarity with this litigation by presiding over some of the actions since 2007.” Id., at 2.
NOTE: The Panel recognized, “This is a case in which defendant might perceive the MDL process as a means to advance its litigation interests, just as the recently filed actions may have arisen in part from the anticipated denial of the class motions in California.” In re Land Rover, at 2. However, the Judicial Panel explained at page 2, “Our decision is not based on such considerations.”