MDL Judicial Panel Transfers Class Action Lawsuits to Massachusetts Despite Fact that No Cases were Pending in that State
After four statewide class actions were filed against Volkswagon of America arising out of its August 1004 warranty extension/reimbursement program for certain Volkswagon and Audi vehicles, defense and plaintiff attorneys filed a § 1407 motion for centralization of the litigation. In re Volkswagon and Audi Warranty Extension Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2006 WL 2548199 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit., August 29, 2006). The lawsuits had been filed in California, Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs requested transfer to the Southern District of Illinois, and the defense requested centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, the Judicial Panel granted the joint motion for centralization, but transferred the cases to the District of Massachusetts because “[b]y centralizing this litigation before Judge Joseph Tauro, we are assigning this litigation to a jurist who has both the time and experience to steer this litigation on a prudent course.”
NOTE: This case illustrates that the Judicial Panel takes its job quite seriously. While the orders granting § 1407 motions often seem identical, the similarity in language – necessitated by the statutory requirements for centralization – belies the care the Judicial Panel exercises in ruling upon these motions.