COVID-19 Resource Center

08/08/2019

Heinz Wins Bid to Keep Consumer Class Action in Federal Court and Prevails in Seeking Transfer to MDL

Jessica M. Heinz, a partner in the firm’s Philadelphia office, successfully represented her client in a bid to keep a putative consumer class action in federal court, and was victorious in defending her client against the plaintiff’s opposition to have the lawsuit transferred to a multidistrict litigation (MDL)..

The lawsuit stems from recalls of prescription medications.   The plaintiff sued under California consumer protection laws on behalf of all persons or entities that purchased or used the alleged medication in California. 

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found that the defense successfully showed that the suit satisfies the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), which requires more than 100 plaintiffs and an amount in controversy exceeding $5 million for removal jurisdiction. 

In addition, the Court granted the defense’s motion for a stay pending a decision from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on whether the action would be transferred to a MDL pending in the District of New Jersey, where nearly 100 other similar lawsuits are pending.

Shortly after removing to federal court, Ms. Heinz sought to transfer the action to the MDL and the plaintiff opposed.  The JPML transferred the action, agreeing with Ms. Heinz that the action involved common questions of fact with the actions in the MDL and that transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.  The JPML further noted that the District Court had resolved the jurisdictional objections raised by the plaintiff when it denied her motion to remand.  In addition, the JPML rejected plaintiff’s argument that the case is a mass action and thus barred from being transferred by CAFA.  Based on the complaint, the JPML said the case is a “statewide class action” not a mass action and there is no precedent to support that CAFA prevents transfer of putative class actions. 

Questions about the opinion can be directed to Jessica M. Heinz at (610) 862-1929 / jheinz@c-wlaw.com