Monday, January 30, 2017 - In MDL lawsuit news, the motion to transfer lawsuits regarding the misrepresentation of a sperm donor by the Xytex Corporation into multidistrict litigation was denied by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on December 7. The plaintiffs who were seeking consolidation claim that they were sold sperm by the company, which promised a number of qualifications of their sperm donors that were not met. The plaintiffs behind the lawsuits attempted to have their claims consolidated before a single federal judge for convenience, but were rebuffed by the JPML as a number of their arguments did not meet the standards set by the panel.
The JPML responded to the motion to transfer first by noting that the lawsuits being filed before the panel did have standing in court. They acknowledged that the claims pursued damages for unlawful activity committed by the defendant and that the allegations shared common questions of fact, a key necessity for multidistrict consolidation. These are not the only factors however that go into the JPML‘s decision to transfer litigation into an MDL.
The claims appearing before the court also have to be complex litigation that will be vastly aided by the resources and coordination offered by consolidating claims into an MDL. The JPML concluded that the claims filed by the plaintiffs and their multidistrict litigation lawyers were not complex enough to substantially benefit from a transfer into multidistrict litigation. The number of actions pending before the panel also impacted their decision to deny the motion to transfer.
The JPML also noted that there were only six actions included in the motion to transfer. Most lawsuits that file together for and MDL transfer have at least 10 claims and demonstrate a potential for many more to join the MDL in the coming months. The panel determined that the arguments made by the MDL attorneys on behalf of the plaintiffs would not stretch to other potential claimants outside of the six that originally filed the lawsuits and therefore would not necessitate consolidated into multidistrict litigation.
The lawyers behind the motion to transfer had also argued before the JPML during its hearing session on December 1 that the litigation would benefit from the lack of duplicate discovery that would be present if the lawsuits were to be consolidated. The JPML didn‘t buy this line of reasoning either as it declared that informal coordination between the parties would be more than enough to avoid duplicate discovery and that an MDL to fulfill this request was not necessary. This same logic applied to the potential for inconsistent pretrial rulings.
Overall, the JPML recognized the severity of the claims, but decided that they did not warrant consolidation into an MDL to resolve the issues presented. There is always a limited amount of docket space for federal judges that preside over MDL proceedings, and if the JPML can determine that a motion to transfer would not utilize these resources efficiently, it will deny the request to maintain that space for complex litigation for which it is required.