Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Actions to Northern District of Georgia
Thirteen (13) class actions – four in California, four in the Eastern District of New York, three in Colorado and one in the Southern District of New York and the Western District of Pennsylvania – were filed against various defendants including various Oppenheimer entities. In re Oppenheimer Rochester Funds Group Securities Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 17, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. The class actions shared a common basis: “All actions share factual questions relating to (1) the operation of municipal bond markets and their liquidity, (2) the impact of market conditions on the types of assets held in the funds, (3) the risks inherent in certain types of holdings, including tobacco bonds and inverse floaters, (4) whether these types of investments were properly disclosed prior to October 2008, and/or (5) whether the concentration of these and other allegedly risky investments was contrary to the fundamental investment objectives and representations of the Oppenheimer municipal bond funds. Although four different municipal bond funds are involved in these thirteen actions, the investment strategies and public disclosures are similar and all funds are overseen by a common investment manager and distributor/underwriter. Thus, regardless of which municipal bond fund is involved in each action, all actions can be expected to focus on a number of common defendants and/or witnesses.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys for various Oppenheimer defendants 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 Southern or Eastern District of New York, id., at 1. The responses by plaintiffs in the various class actions were all over the map – some opposed the motion, while others supported the motion but requested centralization in Colorado, California, Pennsylvania. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, id., at 2. The Panel also selected the District of Colorado as the appropriate transferee court because “RBSW is headquartered in Atlanta, a significant amount of discovery is likely to take place in that district.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred the Ohio class action to Georgia. Id., at 1-2.