We’re back . . .

. . . and hopefully new and improved.  imPaneled has spent much of its hiatus mastering the search algorithms and other data manipulation necessary to compile and process the huge amounts of information that will hopefully make imPaneled your regular destination for Panel and lead counsel news.  The idea is that posts will be coming every day (or something close to that) going forward.  We’ll see.

Anyway, last week’s filings predictably brought little in the way of substance, as complex litigators joined the real world in vacating their offices.  The Panel was flooded with notices identifying who is most likely to join us in NYC on September 20, where the main attractions will be the Mortgage Lender Force-Placed Insurance Litigation (MDL 2388), the Facebook IPO Securities Litigation (MDL 2389), the Uponor Plumbing Fittings  Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2393), and the Real Estate Transfer Tax Litigation (MDL 2394).

Plaintiffs in the Nexium Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2404) moved to be included in the fun in NYC–purely in the interests of justice, of course–despite having filed the initial motion in that proceeding just last week.  The Panel took all of one business day to deny that request earlier today.

Most of the lead counsel activity in the district courts last week was uncontested (i.e., boring).  The sole apparent exception is the General Maritime securities litigation in the S.D.N.Y., where Rigrodsky & Long is apparently duking it out with Wolf Haldenstein for all the spoils.  There were also submissions in the massive Peregrine proceeding in the N.D. Ill.  But imPaneled will need a few days and perhaps another laptop to make sense of that one.

imPaneled has promised some of its biggest fans there will be another post tomorrow.  Tune in to see if imPaneled is a blog of its word.

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Yes, imPaneled is alive and well

Please pardon imPaneled’s apparent moribundity in recent weeks.  The rush to get online for the last Panel hearing did not allow for a plan to do research and posts when those pesky billable matters get busy.  Fortunately, the pendency of another Panel hearing has resulted in such a plan, and imPaneled will never again lapse into a coma of similar duration.

Before we get to next week’s proceedings in the “Hostess City of the South” (which is not so nicknamed due to any abundance of Twinkies), an epilogue of sorts for September’s fun is in order.  Let’s start with MDL 2274, the CitiMortgage HAMP Contract proceedings, the background of which is here.  The Panel sent all of the actions to the Central District of California, citing the pendency of “[f]our first-filed actions” there, and Citi’s designation of the district as its consolation prize.  Judge Fischer, anticipating a leadership dispute, laid out the criteria that would guide his decision, which vaguely parallel those in Rule 23(g)(1)(A): “(1) willingness and ability to commit to a time-consuming process; (2) ability to work cooperatively with others; (3) professional experience in this type of litigation; and (4) access to sufficient resources to advance the litigation in a timely manner.”  Alas, no such drama was forthcoming.  The sole lead counsel motion sought co-lead positions for Milberg (representing the West Coast plaintiffs) and Roddy Klein & Ryan (previously in the East Coast contingent).  Counsel should be lauded for their cooperation—but not by imPaneled.  A dispute would have been more interesting.

The Panel’s disposition of MDL 2291, the Wesson Oil Marketing and Sales Practices proceedings, was about as compelling as the non-action that preceded it.  To the surprise of no one, that went to Judge Morrow in the Central District of California. Then the action started.  The Panel’s order required the transfer of only one case, the Scarpelli action, from New Jersey to the C.D. Cal.  Judge Morrow consolidated that case with the five cases already pending there, and ordered the parties to submit lead counsel papers.  Wolf Haldenstein and Milberg, who had spoken for the California plaintiffs from the outset, moved for their appointment as co-leads.  The New Jersey plaintiffs sought the appointment of Bursor & Fisher as a third co-lead.  But two weeks later—before resolving the motions—Her Honor determined that her consolidation of the Scarpelli action with the others had been “in error,” for reasons that appear nowhere in any of the dockets.  She subsequently granted the Wolf/Milberg motion in the consolidated cases.  The Scarpelli docket has since been idle.  If anyone has any insights as to this odd turn of events, feel free to forward them.

Finally, the recent record in MDL 2290, the JPMorgan Chase Mortgage Modification Litigation, has been light in both volume and intrigue.  The Panel hearing proved telling, as the Panel transferred all of the pending cases to the District of Massachusetts, based primarily on the pendency of the first-filed action there.  Defendants’ apocalyptic vision as to what would have otherwise befallen our federal courts thus will not come to pass.  Plaintiffs’ counsel played nice as to lead positions, agreeing to co-leadership for Levin Fishbein, Keller Rohrback (who had both filed in and moved for California), Roddy Klein & Ryan (who signed onto the others’ motion for California despite filing first in Massachusetts) and Cuneo Gilbert (who filed “me too” papers supporting California after filing their case in New Jersey).

More to come in coming days as we close the book (for now) on the other September arguments, tackle more recent news, and preview next week’s Slugfest in Savannah.

Chaos, Panel-style

The clerk’s nightmare that is In re: Imprelis Herbicide Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2284, surely tops the bill for the September 27 oral argument in Philadelphia.  According to the Panel, that proceeding encompasses 45 actions in 18 courts.  The competing motions and responses are little less extensive.  Even defendant duPont hasn’t settled on a single district, favoring Minnesota, but–shockingly–amenable to Delaware.

Plaintiffs are predictably more scattered in their views.  The several camps are generally focused on the following possibilities:

  • Delaware: Labaton filed the initial motion seeking consolidation in Delaware, then acceded to New Jersey and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in its reply.  Chimicles, Lieff Cabraser, Berger & Montague and others are on board.
  • N.D. Ohio: Wolf Haldenstein, Climaco Wilcox and others filed the second motion, seeking consolidation in the Northern District of Ohio.  They were followed by a slew of other midwestern plaintiffs, some of whom seek assignment to other judges in that district.
  • Minnesota: Robins Kaplan seeks consolidation on its home turf.  Relatively few other plaintiffs join them, and several of those are amenable to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • Indiana:  A relatively small group of plaintiffs, led by Cohen & Malad, seek consolidation in the Southern District of Indiana.
  • E.D. Pa.: Another relatively small group of plaintiffs, led by Fox Rothschild, Weinstein Kitchenoff and Seeger Weiss, seek consolidation in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

There will be more to come as to this one as it develops.

Update:  It turns out that there should have been more to come immediately upon the initial posting of this preview.  I missed a submission from Wilentz Goldman favoring the District of New Jersey (with Delaware as the alternative) and another favoring the Eastern District of Michigan (with the N.D. Ohio as the alternative).  Kudos to Mr. Lüthi and his staff for doing a better job of keeping these things straight than I apparently do.

Go west?

MDL No. 2291, In re: Wesson Oil Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, may be substantially lacking for drama.  Defendant ConAgra started the action by moving for consolidation in the Central District of California, with the District of Nebraska as an alternative.  Four plaintiffs already on file in the C.D. Cal. (led by Wolf Haldenstein) concurred as to consolidation there.  Plaintiffs on file in a single case in the District of New Jersey belatedly filed a response seeking consolidation there.

  • 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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