Judicial Panel Agrees with Plaintiffs and Defense that Putative Class Action Lawsuits Warrant Centralization Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Selects Northern District of California as Transferee Court
At least 15 separate putative class action lawsuits were filed in at least 6 different federal courts in various states – followed by numerous tag-along actions – seeking to recover damages for alleged violations of antitrust laws arising out a purported conspiracy to fix prices on international passenger air travel to or from the United States. In re Int’l Air Transp. Surcharge Antitrust Litig., 460 F.Supp.2d 1377 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2006). Defense and plaintiff lawyers agreed that pretrial coordination under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 was warranted, but they disagreed on the appropriate transferee court. The Judicial Panel agreed that pretrial coordination was warranted, and explained that the Northern District of California was the appropriate form because “i) the MDL-1973 actions in that district (which comprise the largest number of actions and potential tag-along actions pending in any single district in this docket) are already proceeding apace before an able judge experienced in the management of complex and multidistrict litigation; and ii) the district is well equipped with the resources that this complex antitrust docket is likely to require.” Id.
NOTE: The Judicial Panel noted that four of its judges – Judges Hodges, Jensen, Motz and Hansen – could be putative class members in the case. Accordingly, “each of them has filed with the Clerk of the Panel a formal renunciation of any claim they he might have as a putative class member, thereby removing any basis for disqualification on that ground.” In re Int’l Air Transp., at 1378 n.1. The Panel noted that, in any event, it invoked the “rule of necessity.” Id. (citing In re Wireless Tel. Radio Frequency Emissions Products Liab. Litig., 170 F.Supp.2d 1356, 1357-58 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2001)).