Judicial Panel Grants Defendant’s Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Over Objection of Plaintiffs in All Four Affected Class Actions, and Transfers Class Actions to Northern District of Illinois for Pretrial Purposes
Four class actions –one each in the Northern and Central Districts of California, the Northern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Michigan – were filed against KFC Corp. and Yum! Brands. In re Kentucky Grilled Chicken Coupon Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 4, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. According to the allegations under the class actions, “one or both defendants reneged on a promotion for a new product line of grilled chicken at KFC establishments.” Id. 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 Northern District of Illinois. Id. Plaintiffs in each of the class actions opposed centralization but urged, if the Judicial Panel granted the motion, that the class action lawsuits be coordinated in the Central District of California. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, rejecting plaintiffs’ argument that “alternatives to centralization, including informal coordination of discovery, are preferable, given that there are only four constituent actions and the issues are relatively straightforward.” Id. On the contrary, the Judicial Panel found that the class actions involved common fact questions and that centralization “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation” in that it “will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (including with respect to class certification), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.” Id. The Panel also concluded that the Northern District of Illinois was the appropriate transferee court as the first-filed class action was brought there and the Chief Judge presiding over that class action “has the time and experience to steer the litigation on a prudent course.” Id. Accordingly, the Panel transferred all class actions pending outside of Illinois to that district. Id., at 2.