Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiffs Motions for Pretrial Coordination of Individual and Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Unopposed by Other Individual and Class Action Plaintiffs and by Responding Defendants, and Transfers Individual and Class Action Lawsuits to Middle District of Pennsylvania
Twenty (20) individual and class action lawsuits were filed in seven (7) different federal district courts against several defendants alleging federal antitrust violations arising out of the allegation that the defendants “conspired to fix, raise, maintain and/or stabilize the price of chocolate confectionary products in the United States at supracompetitive levels.” In re Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 7, 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1-2]. Lawyers for individual and class action plaintiffs in six (6) of the lawsuits (2 in New Jersey and 4 in Pennsylvania) filed four (4) motions with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the individual and class action cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407; no responding party (consisting of other individual and class action plaintiffs, as well as defendants Cadbury Adams U.S.A. LLC, The Hershey Co., ITWAL Ltd., Mars, Inc., Masterfoods USA, and Nestle U.S.A., Inc.) opposed pretrial coordination, but the parties did not agree on the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 1. As the Judicial Panel summarized at page 1, “Moving and responding plaintiffs variously support centralization in the following districts: the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Michigan, the District of New Jersey, the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Eastern District of Texas, or the Eastern District of Virginia. Responding defendants support centralization in the Southern District of New York.” The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the individual and class action lawsuits, and selected the Middle District of Pennsylvania as the appropriate transferee court “[b]ecause defendant Hershey’s worldwide headquarters are located there, and several of the defendants maintain a presence in or near that district, relevant documents and witnesses are likely located in that area.” Id., at 2.
The district court judge to whom the case first was assigned by the Judicial Panel was recused, necessitating reassignment. That court order may be found here.