Lead-Tainted Toys Class Action Defense Cases-In re Mattel: Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Grants Joint Defense/Plaintiff Motion To Centralize Class Action Litigation In Central District of California

Feb 29, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Judicial Panel Grants Request for Pretrial Coordination of Class Action Lawsuits Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 and Transfers Class Actions to Central District of California

Eleven (11) class action lawsuits (5 in California, 2 in New York and Pennsylvania, and 1 in Indiana and South Carolina) against various defendants, including Mattel and Fisher-Price, arising out of the “the production of defendants’ toys in China with surface paints that allegedly contain elevated levels of lead and the sale of those toys in the United States.” In re Mattel, Inc., Toy Lead Paint Prods. Liab. Litig., ___ F.Supp.2d ___ (Jud.Pan.Mult.Lit. December 18, 2007) [Slip Opn., at 1]. Defense attorneys for Mattel and Fisher-Price, together with lawyers for plaintiffs in three of the class actions, filed a motion with the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) requesting centralization of the class actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 in the Central District of California. Id. South Carolina and New York plaintiffs’ lawyers supported the motion, but each argued that the district wherein their action was pending was the appropriate transferee court, id. Pennsylvania plaintiff’s lawyer opposed pretrial coordination, arguing that her action should be treated separately because it seeks only medical monitoring, id. The Judicial Panel granted the motion to centralize the class action lawsuits, noting that other class action complaints also sought medical monitoring (not solely the Pennsylvania class action), and that centralization would “eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, especially with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary. Id. The Panel also agreed that the Central District of California, where Mattel is headquartered and where the first class action was filed, was the appropriate transferee court. Id., at 2.

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