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U.S.Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.: 12 Cases Against Bank of America For “Personal Bankers” Claiming Off-the-Clock Work Transferred to Kansas For Discovery, Because First-Filed There, Central Location, Lighter Docket And Capable Judge

In re Bank of America Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation

Defendants Bank of America moved, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings of this litigation, consisting of 12 different related actions, in the Central District of California. Plaintiffs in two actions support the motion. Plaintiffs in five actions supported centralization of some actions, but suggest excluding certain actions from centralized proceedings. Plaintiffs in five other actions oppose centralization or inclusion of their actions in centralized proceedings. Plaintiffs, in the first instance or in the alternative, suggested the Central District of California, the Northern District of California, or the District of Kansas as transferee district.

Significantly, the Court noted:

“All of these cases contain allegations that Bank of America routinely fails to pay its employees for off-the-clock overtime work in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and/or state law. To be sure, there are differences among the cases. However, as a general rule the similarities seem to outweigh the differences. As we explain below more specifically, we believe that centralization under Section 1407 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.”

Additionally, the Court explained that Bank of America acknowledged its timekeeping policies were the same nationwide for the employees in question.  Therefore, the Court concluded that the cases were ripe for centralization.  Explaining that the discovery for all cases was most suitable to be centralized in Kansas, the Court reasoned:

“The parties have suggested a number of acceptable transferee districts. For instance, Bank of America makes a strong argument for the Central District of California as the central focus of the litigation. For the following reasons, however, we conclude that the District of Kansas would be the best forum. The first-filed Brawner action is pending in that district, with a motion for class certification currently pending. The district is centrally located for the parties and the likely discovery in this nationwide litigation. It has docket conditions that are significantly more favorable than the other primary contenders for this litigation. More specifically and of paramount importance, Judge John W. Lungstrum has the experience, energy and time to handle this litigation efficiently.”