Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Defense Motion To Eliminate Duplicative Discovery, Prevent Inconsistent Rulings, and Conserve Resources of Parties and Court in Pretrial Proceedings of Class Action Cases
Three class action lawsuits were filed against H & R Block Mortgage Corp. alleging violations of the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.) in that defendants purportedly “us[ed] consumer reports for purposes of mailing prescreened offers of credit for home loans to plaintiffs and potential class members.” In re H & R Block Mortgage Corp. Prescreening Litigation, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, ___, 2006 WL 1737530 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit., June 20, 2006). The class actions had been filed in the Central District of California, the Northern District of Indiana, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Judicial Panel found that there was overlap among the putative members of each class action because even though the Indiana and Wisconsin class actions were limited to residents of those particular states, the California class action defense confronted a putative nationwide class action. H & R Block’s class action defense team filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 for coordination or consolidation of pretrial proceedings of the class actions. On June 20, 2006, the MDL Judicial Panel granted the defense motion – over the objection of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who argued that “voluntary measures” had been put in place to obviate the need for coordination or consolidation – holding that the class actions would benefit from such treatment:
The three actions contain competing class allegations and involve facts of sufficient intricacy that could spawn challenging procedural questions and pose the risk of inconsistent and/or conflicting judgments. While we applaud every cooperative effort undertaken by parties to any litigation, transfer under Section 1407 has the salutary effect of placing all actions in this docket before a single judge who can formulate a pretrial program that: 1) allows discovery with respect to any non-common issues to proceed concurrently with discovery on common issues . . .; and 2) ensures that pretrial proceedings will be conducted in a streamlined manner leading to the just and expeditious resolution of all actions to the overall benefit of the parties and the judiciary.
In re H & R Block Mortgage Corp., at 2.