Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Over Objection of One Group of Class Action Plaintiffs, but Transfers Class Actions to Central District of California
Seven class actions were filed in seven different district courts – the Central and Northern Districts of California, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia, the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Western District of Washington – against various DirecTV challenging its early cancellation fee policies. In re DirecTV, Inc., Early Cancellation Fee Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. October 9, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “defendants commit their customers to minimum programming terms without their knowledge or consent and unlawfully charge an early termination fee if the customer cancels service prior to the expiration of that programming term.” Id. Attorneys for plaintiffs in three of the class actions (Florida, Georgia and Washington) 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 Western District of Washington; plaintiffs in the Pennsylvania class action and the New Jersey class action supported the motion. Id. Plaintiffs in the Central District of California class action supported the motion but proposed their district as the appropriate transferee court; plaintiffs in the Northern District of California class action opposed centralization. Id. Defense attorneys opposed centralization but alternatively argued for transfer of the class actions to the Central District of California, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting the arguments of the plaintiffs in the Northern District of California. Id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel decided that the Central District of California was the appropriate transferee court, where DirecTV was headquartered. Id., at 2. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of the Central District of California to that district. Id.