Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Over the Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs, but Transfers Class Actions to Western District of Washington
Four class actions – two in Florida and one each in Michigan and Washington – were filed against various defendants, including Park West Galleries and Fine Art Sales, alleging “that defendants operated a fraudulent scheme to sell fake, worthless, or low-value artwork at shipboard auctions or in private sales through the use of phony appraisals and/or other sales-related documentation.” In re Park West Galleries, Inc., Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. August 11, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 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 Eastern District of Michigan; defense attorneys for the Holland America entities – “the only cruise line defendants” – did not oppose the motion, but the Panel noted that they were parties only in the Washington class action. Id. Plaintiffs in one of the Florida class actions and in the Washington class action opposed the motion, or requested transfer to the districts in which their respective class action was pending. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits but concluded that the Western District of Washington was the appropriate transferee court because “[that] action is measurably more advanced than the action pending in the Eastern District of Michigan, the forum favored by moving defendants.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel ordered the class actions outside of Washington transferred to the Western District of Washington. Id., at 1-2.