Philadelphia is Centralization Central . . .

. . . at least for the next 24 hours, which is most appropriate.  Just as Illadelph is the Cradle of Liberty, it is also the Cradle of the Federal Class Action Bar (though imPaneled is not optimistic that latter nickname will stick).

Unfortunately, the community of frequent Panel movants has given us a short docket in recent months, as Their Honors will hear arguments in only eight proceedings tomorrow.  Of the original 11, two are moot, and all parties waived (!) oral argument in a third.*

So what do the dockets reveal as newsworthy among the remaining eight?  Well, defendants in MDL 2476, In re Credit Default Swaps Antitrust Litigation, are claiming neutrality as to the two transferee court candidates (the N.D. Ill. and the S.D.N.Y.).  imPaneled’s mind was boggled by that, as the defendant stereotype dictates their seeking every procedural advantage, no matter how small, particularly in a case with such high stakes (even by Panel standards).  Kudos to the MDL 2476 defendants for further defying the stereotype by simplifying (rather than unnecessarily complicating) matters.

Another curious submission is that of one plaintiff (Harter) who opposes centralization in MDL  2475, In re North Sea Brent Crude Oil Futures Litigation, in which defendants and all other plaintiffs tout the S.D.N.Y.  That submission is curious in that it is limited to two pages.  imPaneled lauds Plaintiff Harter for not wasting Their Honors’ time with superfluous prose, but (again) questions why a litigant would say little or nothing in yet another high-stakes proceeding.

And, finally, a brief sour note.  In no fewer than four proceedings on tomorrow’s docket, it appears that one or a few plaintiffs are siding with defendants as to venue, and opposing all other plaintiffs.  That is a gambit to which imPaneled has objected in the past, as it at least creates the appearance that the responsible plaintiffs’ counsel are more interested in leading a weak case than following in a strong one.  Where that is in fact the case, it is a grave disservice to the class involved, and to class plaintiffs generally, as such cases are more likely than most to result in bad law.

This note is even more sour than it would otherwise be because pecuniary interests preclude imPaneled from identifying the proceedings and firms involved (i.e., we can’t afford to offend people with whom we might have to work in the future).  But if any firm feels wrongfully accused and has a better explanation for their actions, imPaneled not only wants to hear it, but might even post it, as we hope our conclusions are in fact unfounded.

Enough gloom.  It’s Panel-centric Mardi Gras in Philadelphia, starting shortly!

* – If litigants and their counsel are unwilling to pay to visit Philadelphia, that is the most certain sign of economic distress in both our society and our profession.

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  1. It’s Always Testy in Philadelphia | imPaneled

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  • About the blogmaster

    Bart Cohen is the principal of the Law Office of Bart D. Cohen, where he represents his clients in class actions and other complex litigation, and Winning Briefs, where he polishes, edits and drafts written work product for overextended lawyers.

    His unnatural appetites for rules and research of all kinds have made him an expert on proceedings before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. He feeds those appetites and chronicles the battles to land lead counsel appointments that are fought in part before the Panel on imPaneled.

    You can contact Bart here or connect with him here.

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