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U.S.Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit.: 4 Off-the-Clock Cases Against Foot Locker Centralized to Venue of First-Filed Case
In re: FOOT LOCKER, INC.
These proceedings were before the Multi District Panel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. The defendants (Foot Locker) moved to centralize several pending cases, all arising from similar claims, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. At the time Foot Locker’s motion was made four actions were pending in four districts. Plaintiffs in all actions oppose centralization. Notwithstanding the opposition of all plaintiffs in all cases, the Panel granted Foot Locker’s motion.
Largely breaking from its prior jurisprudence (in granting the motion over opposition of multiple parties), the Panel reasoned:
“On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. No party disputes that these actions share factual questions arising out of allegations that Foot Locker routinely fails to pay retail employees wages for work they performed. These actions allege that (1) the timekeeping system used by Footlocker allows managers to modify or decrease the time recorded; and (2) Footlocker’s bonus policy encourages managers to force employees to work off-the-clock and to delete time recorded. As in In re Bank of America Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation, it appears that defendants’ timekeeping and labor budgeting policies and practices are corporate-wide and uniformly applied. See 706 F.Supp.2d 1369, 1371 (J.P.M.L.2010). Discovery among these actions regarding defendants’ corporate labor budgeting and timekeeping policies therefore will overlap. This litigation, like In re Bank of America, is distinguishable from wage and hour dockets “in which the Panel has denied centralization, because the duties of the employees at issue appeared to be subject to significant local variances.” Id. at 1371, n.3 (citing In re Tyson Foods, Inc., Meat Processing Facilities Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Litig., 581 F.Supp.2d 1374, 1375 (J.P.M.L.2008)).
Plaintiffs’ primarily argue that informal coordination is preferable to centralization since only four actions are pending and plaintiffs are represented by common counsel. Plaintiffs make a strong case against centralization but, on balance, particularly given the likely overlap in discovery and pretrial proceedings, we are persuaded that centralization will promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. Though a large number of actions are not presently before the Panel, also weighing in favor of centralization is that additional related actions alleging similar class claims in other states could well be filed. Centralization in these circumstances will have the benefit of eliminating duplicative discovery; preventing inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserving the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.
We are persuaded that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is the most appropriate transferee district. The first-filed Pereira action has been pending there since May 2007, and Judge J. Curtis Joyner is familiar with the issues in this litigation. Although the Pereira action has been pending for some time, discovery is ongoing and, given that plaintiffs in all actions are represented by common counsel, plaintiffs will not be prejudiced by transfer to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.”
Thus, although the Panel noted that the plaintiffs made a “strong case” against centralization, it centralized the case nonetheless.
Click In re: Foot Locker, Inc. to read the entire Transfer Order.
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.”
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.”