Judicial Panel Grants Plaintiff Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, Supported by Common Class Action Defendants and by Vast Majority of Class Action Plaintiffs, and Transfers Class Actions to Northern District of California
Twelve class actions – eleven in the Northern District of California and one in the Western District of Washington – were filed against Wal-Mart and Netflix alleging violations of antitrust laws; specifically, the class action complaints allege “defendants conspired to divide the online DVD rental market in violation of federal antitrust laws.” In re Online DVD Rental Antitrust Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. April 10, 2009) [Slip Opn., at 1]. (Forty-three (43) additional class action lawsuits were filed in various district courts, and were considered by the Court as potential tag-along class actions. Id. at n.1.) Plaintiffs in one of the California class actions filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Northern District of California; plaintiffs in 35 of the class actions supported the motion, as did all defendants in the various class actions. Id. Plaintiffs in 9 of the potentially-related class actions supported centralization, but argued alternatively for coordination in various district courts in Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Puerto Rico, or West Virginia. Id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits (in part because it would “prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings…with respect to class certification”), and agreed that the Northern District of California was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 1-2. The Judicial Panel explained in selection of the California district court as follows at page 2, “The vast majority of the actions are already pending in the Northern District of California before Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton. Moreover, two of the defendants are headquartered in that district and, accordingly, relevant documents and witnesses are likely located there.” Accordingly, the Panel granted the motion and ordered all actions outside the district transferred to the Northern District of California, id., at 2.