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S.D.N.Y.: Although Elements of First-Filed Rule Satisfied, Court Declines to Transfer Second-Filed Case Due to Lack of Progress of First-Filed Case
Pippins v. KPMG LLP
This case was before the court on defendant’s motions to dismiss the case under the first-filed rule, or in the alternative to transfer the case to the site of the first-filed case, as well as defendant’s motion to stay the case, pending the outcome of a related appeal in the first-filed case. Citing the lack of progress in the first-filed case, the court denied the motions, although acknowledging that the underlying elements necessary for application of the first-filed rule were present.
The court reasoned:
“KPMG has met its burden of showing that the first-filed rule applies in this case by demonstrating that the Present Action and the California Action are nearly identical; however, due to the extensive delay in the California Action, the application of the first-filed rule is diminished.
Since the actions include the same parties and claims, the first-filed rule applies. However, application of the first-filed rule is diminished where there has been little progress in the first-filed action. Am. S.S. Owners Mut. Prot. & Indem. Ass’n, Inc. v. Lafarge N. Am., Inc., 474 F.Supp.2d 474, 489 (S.D.N.Y.2007), aff’d sub nom, N.Y. Marine & Gen. Ins. Co. v. Lafarge N. Am ., Inc., 599 F.3d 102 (2d Cir.2010); see Raytheon Co. v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, 306 F.Supp.2d 346, 352–53 (S.D.N.Y.2004). This case was filed by the California Plaintiffs in 2007. Since that time there has been no significant movement in the case, (Swartz Decl. Ex. 2.) and there has been no movement since the case was stayed in 2009 pending the outcome of Campbell by the Ninth Circuit. Thus, the presumption afforded the California Action is diminished here. If Plaintiffs can show the balance of convenience tilts even slightly in their favor, there is no reason for this court to transfer the action.
Plaintiffs have not identified any “special circumstances” that warrant deviation from the first-filed rule. However, the balance of convenience factors weigh in favor of maintaining this action in the Southern District of New York.”
The court also denied defendant’s motion for a stay, pending the outcome of a related appeal in the Ninth Circuit, noting:
“The first three factors are similar to those considered in the “first-filed” analysis, so those factors weigh in favor of proceeding with this action. The interests of the persons not parties to the civil litigation and the public interest also weigh in favor of denying Defendant’s motion to stay the action. As a collective action, the statute of limitations for opt-in plaintiffs continues to run until the plaintiffs opt-in to the action. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); Hoffman v. Sbarro, Inc., 982 F.Supp. 249, 260 (S.D.N . Y.1997) (Sotomayor, J.). The FLSA has a statute of limitations of three years, two if “willfulness” is not found. Any further delay could prejudice the interests of potential opt-in plaintiffs, whose claims may stale. Public interest also favors the swift resolution of claims alleging violations of the FLSA.”
In re Sepracor Inc. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Litigation
Defendant Sepracor Inc. (Sepracor) moved, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings of this litigation in the Middle District of Florida or, alternatively, the District of Massachusetts. Plaintiffs in an action pending in the District of Arizona action opposed the motion or, alternatively, suggested centralization in the District of Arizona. The Court was persuaded by the Plaintiffs in the Arizona action and transferred the MDL to that District stating:
“This litigation currently consists of two actions pending in two districts, one action each in the District of Arizona and the Middle District of Florida.
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 District of Arizona will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. Each action brings claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and each alleges that defendants avoided paying overtime to employees classified as “pharmaceutical sales representatives.” Centralization under Section 1407 will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.
We are persuaded that the District of Arizona is an appropriate transferee forum for this litigation, because the first-filed action is pending there and discovery is well underway in that action.”