CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Category: Multi District Litigation

MDL Panel Centralizes Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation

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Plaintiffs in the Northern District of California moved to centralize litigation consisting of eleven actions pending in ten districts in the Northern District of California.  In Re Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2012 WL 432607 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Feb. 8, 2012).  The MDL Panel transferred ten actions to the Northern District of California and, assigned to the Judge Edward J. Davila for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.  Id.

 

Background

No party opposed centralization.  Id.  The Panel found that six actions shared factual allegations that “Facebook improperly tracked users’ internet activity after users had logged out of their Facebook accounts.” Id. Plaintiffs in all actions brought claims under the federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. section 2511. Additional claims include violation of the Stored Electronic Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. section 2701, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. section 1030, as well as common law claims for intrusion upon seclusion/invasion of privacy, unjust enrichment, and trespass to chattels.  Id.

The Panel concluded that “Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”  Id.

Judges

Before John G. Heyburn II, Chairman, Kathryn H. Vratil, Barbara S. Jones, Paul J. Barbadoro, Marjorie O. Rendell, and Charles R. Breyer.

By CHARLES JUNG

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MDL Panel Centralizes Horizon Organic Milk Plus DHA Omega 3 Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation in the Southern District of Florida

Horizon organic milk

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Defendants Dean Foods Co. and WhiteWave Foods Co. sought centralization of five actions based in Arkansas, California, Illinois and Florida.  Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. s 1407, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the cases to the Southern District of Florida and assigned them to Hon. Joan A. Lenard for centralized pretrial proceedings.  In re Horizon Organic Milk Plus DHA Omega 3 Marketing And Sales Practices Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2012 WL 432621, MDL No. 2324 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Feb. 9, 2012).

Background

No party opposed centralization.  Plaintiffs in the Western District of Arkansas, Middle District of Florida and Southern District of Florida actions supported centralization in the Southern District of Florida.  Plaintiffs in the Southern District of California and the Northern District of Illinois actions supported centralization in the Northern District of Illinois.

The MDL Panel found that the actions shared factual questions arising out of allegations that defendants’ representations regarding certain milk products fortified with DHA Omega-3 FN1 under the brand name “Horizon Organic Milk” FN2 were misleading insofar as they claimed that the milk supports “brain health” in children and adults.

The Panel decided to order centralization in the Southern District of Florida because several plaintiffs supported centralization there, and that district “is presiding over fewer MDL dockets than other proposed districts.” Id.

Judges

Before John G. Heyburn, II, Chairman, Barbara S. Jones, Paul J. Barbadoro, Marjorie O. Rendell, Charles R. Breyer.

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MDL Panel Denies Unopposed Motion to Centralize 2 Nissan Dashboard Class Actions

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The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation declined to centralize pretrial proceedings in the In Re: Nissan North America, Inc., Infiniti Fx Dashboard Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2164, 715 F. Supp. 2d 1355 (June 3, 2010).  Nissan North America, Inc.  (Nissan) moved for centralized pretrial proceedings in two putative class actions, pending in two districts, alleging that the dashboards in two of its vehicle models were prone to unsightly bubbling.  Id. 1355.  The litigation consists of one action pending in the Western District of Missouri (Hope) and one action pending in the Eastern District of Texas.  Id. Plaintiffs in both actions supported Nissan’s motion. Id.

The Panel denied Nissan’s motions, finding a lack of overlapping classes and noting that the same attorneys represent plaintiffs in both actions:

There are only two actions in this docket. Although both are putative class actions, the Hope plaintiffs seek certification of a Missouri-wide class, while the Aaron plaintiff seeks certification of a Texas-wide class.  Thus, there are no overlapping classes.  In addition, the same attorneys represent plaintiffs in both actions.  While the actions do share some questions of fact regarding whether the dashboards of Infiniti FX35 and FX45 crossover vehicles are prone to unsightly bubbling, the parties have not convinced us that those questions are sufficiently complex and/or numerous to justify Section 1407 transfer at this time.  Alternatives to transfer exist that may minimize whatever possibilities there might be of duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.  See, e.g., In re Eli Lilly and Co. (Cephalexin Monohydrate) Patent Litigation, 446 F.Supp. 242, 244 (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.1978);  see also Manual for Complex Litigation, Fourth, s 20.14 (2004).

Id. Read the rest of this entry »

MDL Panel Transfers Google Street View Litigation to Northern District of California

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred In re Google, Inc. Street View Electronic Communications Litigation, — F. Supp. 2d —-, 2010 WL 3303204 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 17, 2010) to the Northern District of California, assigned to Hon. James Ware.  The cases involve common factual questions arising out of allegations that Google intentionally intercepted electronic communications sent or received over class members’ open, non-secured wireless networks.

Plaintiffs in one District of District of Columbia action moved for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings of this litigation in the District of District of Columbia. Plaintiffs in the other District of District of Columbia action and a potentially-related action supported the motion. Read the rest of this entry »

MDL Panel Denies Centralization in In re Diversified Lending Group, Inc., Securities Litigation

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied centralization in In re Diversified Lending Group, Inc., Securities Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3270231 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 17, 2010).  Common defendant Jackson National Life Insurance Company moved for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings of litigation in the Central District of California.  This litigation consists of five actions pending in three districts: three actions in the Central District of California and one action each in the Middle District of Florida and the Western District of Michigan.

The Panel concluded that common questions of fact predominated “as all actions arise out of an alleged fraud perpetrated by Diversified Lending Group.” Id. *1.  But only one of the actions contained a demand for class certification and it is already pending in the Central District of California. “Consequently, the Panel sees virtually no possibility for inconsistent pretrial class certification rulings.” Id. Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota Hybrid Brake Litigation Transferred to Central District of California by MDL Panel

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The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the Toyota hybrid brake litigation to the Central District of California.  In re Toyota Motor Corp. Hybrid Brake Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3270115 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 17, 2010).  The litigation consists of eight actions listed pending in the Central District of California, the Middle District of Alabama, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of Maryland, and the Northern District of Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

MDL Panel Centralizes BP Securities Litigation in Southern District of Texas to Judge Keith P. Ellison

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation considered a motion, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, to centralize certain securities litigation related to BP in the Western District of Louisiana.  In re BP P.L.C. Securities Litigation, MDL No. 2185, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3238321 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 10, 2010).  The actions all involve alleged violations of Sections 10(b) (and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. § 78a, et seq., and share allegations that BP and its executives misled the investing public concerning the company’s safety measures and commitment to conducting safe operations.  The Panel transferred the proceedings to the Southern District of Texas, to Judge Keith P. Ellison. Read the rest of this entry »

Transitions Lenses Antitrust Litigation Transferred to Middle District of Florida

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, the Transitions Optical, Inc. actions transferred to the Middle District of Florida and assigned to the Honorable James D. Whittemore for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.  In re Transitions Lenses Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2173, — F.Supp.2d —-, 2010 WL 3153211 U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 6, 2010).

Writing for the Panel, Chairman John G. Heyburn II concluded that:

On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization under Section 1407 in the Middle District of Florida will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this antitrust litigation. These actions share factual questions relating to alleged anticompetitive conduct in the photochromic lens industry. Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary. Read the rest of this entry »

Deepwater Horizon Litigation Ordered Transferred to Eastern District of Louisiana by MDL Panel

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The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued its transfer order in In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig “Deepwater Horizon” in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 1010, 2010 WL 3166434 (U.S. Jud. Pan. Mult. Lit. Aug. 10, 2010) (slip op.)

The Panel faced four motions that collectively encompass 77 actions: 31 actions in the Eastern District of Louisiana, 23 actions in the Southern District of Alabama, ten actions in the Northern District of Florida, eight actions in the Southern District of Mississippi, two actions in the Western District of Louisiana, two actions in the Southern District of Texas, and one action in the Northern District of Alabama.

The Panel ordered that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, the actions transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and assigned to the Honorable Carl J. Barbier for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings with the actions pending in that district.

Upon careful consideration, however, we have settled upon the Eastern District of Louisiana as the most appropriate district for this litigation. Without discounting the spill’s effects on other states, if there is a geographic and psychological “center of gravity” in this docket, then the Eastern District of Louisiana is closest to it. Considering all of the applicable factors, we have asked Judge Carl J. Barbier to serve as transferee judge. He has had a distinguished career as an attorney and now as a jurist. Moreover, during his twelve years on the bench, Judge Barbier has gained considerable MDL experience, and has been already actively managing dozens of cases in this docket. We have every confidence that he is well prepared to handle a litigation of this magnitude.

Some parties have expressed concern that recusals among Eastern District of Louisiana judges unduly limit our choices, and that even Judge Barbier may be subject to recusal. Notwithstanding these concerns, the Panel is quite comfortable with its choice. Judge Barbier is an exceptional jurist, who would be a wise selection for this assignment even had those other judges in the district been available. Moreover, the Fifth Circuit recently denied the petition of certain defendants for a writ of mandamus directing Judge Barbier to recuse himself.

Chairman John G. Heyburn, II wrote for the Panel.

By CHARLES H. JUNG