Judicial Panel Grants Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.§ 1407 and Selects Movant’s Alternative Transferee Forum Over Competing Request of Other Common Class Action Defendant
Twelve (12) class actions – three in Ohio, two in the Central and Northern Districts of California and one in the Southern District of California, and one in Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota and Missouri – were filed against Apple and AT&T “arising from the advertising and marketing of multimedia message service (MMS) functionality of Apple’s iPhone 3G and 3GS supported by AT&T’s 3G network.” In re Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS “MMS” Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 3, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1, 2]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “Apple and AT&T have engaged in deceptive marketing with respect to the availability of MMS functionality on the iPhone 3G and 3GS.” Id., at 2. Defense attorneys for AT&T 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 Northern District of Ohio or the Eastern District of Louisiana. Id., at 1. Plaintiffs in the class actions pending in the Northern and Southern Districts of California supported consolidation but argued for transfer to the Northern District of California. Id. Plaintiffs in the other nine class actions supported centralization in the Eastern District of Louisiana (though at oral argument one of the Ohio class action plaintiffs requested centralization in Ohio). Id. Common defendant Apple also supported centralization in Ohio, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, finding that this “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.” Id., at 2. The Panel also determined that the Eastern District of Louisiana was the appropriate transferee court because “[m]ost plaintiffs and the moving defendant, in the alternative, support centralization in this district” and the assignment will be “to an experienced transferee judge who is not currently presiding over another multidistrict litigation docket.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Pennsylvania to that district.