Judicial Panel Grants Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of California, Rejecting Request of Separately Moving and Non-Moving Plaintiffs to Transfer Class Actions to Alternative Districts
Twenty federal antitrust class action lawsuits were filed in four different states against various defendants alleging a “conspiracy to fix the price of thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels, which are used in computer monitors, flat panel television sets, and other electronic devices”; the majority of these class actions – 13 of the 20 – were filed in the Northern District of California, and three of the class actions were filed in the District of New Jersey. In re TFT-LCD (Flat Panel) Antitrust Litig., 483 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1353 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. 2007). Plaintiffs’ lawyers in 8 of the Northern District of California class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 requesting centralization of the class action litigation in that district; however, plaintiff’s lawyer in one of the New Jersey cases moved the Panel for centralization in that district. Id. None of the parties opposed pretrial coordination of the class action lawsuits, but they did not agree on the appropriate transferee court. As the Panel summarized, “The majority support selection of the Northern District of California as transferee forum, while others urge the Panel to choose the District of New Jersey, the Southern District of New York, or the Western District of Washington.” The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class actions and concluded that the Northern District of California is the appropriate transferee court because “over 50 of the actions of which the Panel has been notified have been brought in that district, and it appears to be somewhat more conveniently located for the significant number of Asia-based defendants.” Id., at 1354.