Judicial Panel Denies Defense Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. — 1407, Agreeing With Objections of Class Action Plaintiffs that Alternatives to Centralization Exist to Avoid Duplicate Discovery
Four class actions were filed against General Mills – one each in California, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio – arising out of defendant’s marketing of its Yo-Plus and/or Yo-Plus Light yogurts. In re General Mills, Inc., YoPlus Yogurt Prod. Marketing & Sales Prac. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. June 8, 2010) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Each class action sought to represent only a statewide class, 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 Southern District of Florida; plaintiffs in each of the class actions opposed pretrial coordination. Id. While the Judicial Panel recognized that the class actions “do share some factual questions regarding General Mills’s nationwide marketing of its Yo-Plus and/or
Yo-Plus Light yogurt,” the Florida class action was “already certified as a statewide class of all persons who purchased Yo-Plus yogurt in Florida to obtain its claimed digestive benefits.” Id. Moreover, “The other three actions seek similar putative statewide classes encompassing consumers from different states. Accordingly, the certified and putative classes will likely not overlap significantly.” Id. Finally, in light of the fact that General Mills was the sole defendant, “the parties have every ability to cooperate and minimize the possibilities of duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.” Id. Accordingly, the Judicial Panel denied the motion to centralize the class actions. Id., at 2.