Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs’ Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Supported by All Responding Parties Despite Disagreement over Appropriate Transferee Court, but Transfers Class Actions to District of New Jersey
Five class actions – two in the Central and one in the Eastern Districts of California and one each in the District of New Jersey and the Eastern District of New York – were filed against General Mills alleging false advertising claims arising out of its “labeling of its Cheerios cereals, and, specifically, claims that eating Cheerios can lower a person’s cholesterol.” In re Cheerios Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Plaintiffs in the Eastern and one of the Central District of California 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 Eastern District of California. Id. All responding parties supported pretrial coordination, but plaintiffs in the New York class action urged for transfer of the class actions to that district, and common defendant General Mills argued for transfer of the class actions to the District of New Jersey. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, but agreed with defense attorneys that the District of New Jersey was the appropriate transferee court, id. The Panel explained that one of the class action lawsuits already was pending in that district and that “[the judge] presiding over that action has the time and experience to steer this litigation on a prudent course.” Id., at 1-2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Pennsylvania to that district. Id., at 2.