Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Separate Requests for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Supported by Defendants, and Transfers Class Actions to Eastern District of New York
Eight class actions – four in New Jersey, two in Illinois and one each in California and New York – were filed against various Bayer defendants “arising from Bayer’s marketing and sale of Bayer Aspirin with Heart Advantage or Bayer Women’s Low-Dose Aspirin Plus Calcium, or both.” In re Bayer Corp. Combination Aspirin Products Marketing & Sales Practices Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 14, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the class action complaints, “Bayer marketed these products without approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration and deceived the plaintiffs and putative class members with respect to the safety and efficacy of the products.” Id., at 2. Class action plaintiffs filed three separate motions with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the New York class action sought centralization in the Eastern District of New York; plaintiffs in the four New Jersey class actions and the two Illinois class actions originally sought centralization in their respective jurisdictions, but at oral argument they, too, supported centralization in the Eastern District of New York. Id. Plaintiffs in the California class action requested that the Panel defer ruling on the motions until the district court ruled on their motion to remand their class action to state court; alternatively, they requested centralization in the Southern District of California. Id. Defendants Bayer and Bayer Healthcare supported centralization of the class actions (including the California class action), and recommended transfer either to the Southern District of Illinois or Eastern District of New York. Id.
The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, agreeing that centralization “will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly with respect to class certification issues; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” In re Bayer, at 1-2. The Panel agreed further that the Eastern District of New York was the appropriate transferee court, particularly given its wide support. Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Judicial Panel ordered the various class actions transferred to the Eastern District of New York, id.