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Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation
June 7, 2021, Filed
MDL No. 2997
ORDER DENYING TRANSFER
Before the Panel:1 Plaintiffs in the Eastern District of New York Albano action move under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to centralize this litigation in the Eastern District of New York. This litigation consists of 38 actions pending in ten districts, as listed on Schedule A.2 These actions allege that manufacturers of baby foods knowingly sold baby food products containing heavy metals (specifically, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury), yet marketed these products as healthy and as not containing harmful ingredients. Movants seeks centralization on an industry-wide basis, with the proposed MDL incorporating actions against all major baby food manufacturers. Since the filing of the motion, the Panel has been notified of 48 related federal actions pending in twelve districts.
The motion elicited numerous and varied responses. Plaintiffs in four actions on the motion and six related actions support industry-wide centralization. In addition to the Eastern District of New York, plaintiffs in three of these actions suggest either the Northern [*2] District of California or the Southern District of Florida as the transferee district. Plaintiffs in 23 actions on the motion and sixteen related actions oppose centralization on an industry-wide basis. In the alternative, various of these plaintiffs propose the Northern District of California, the District of New Jersey, and the Eastern District of New York as the transferee forum.
Plaintiffs in ten actions on the motion and eleven related actions request or alternatively suggest centralization on a defendant-by-defendant basis. These plaintiffs generally request that the defendant-specific MDLs be centralized in the district where the particular defendant is located, though there is some disagreement among the parties as to what districts those are. Plaintiffs propose centralization of actions naming Beech-Nut Nutrition Company (Beech-Nut) in the Northern District of New York; actions naming Campbell Soup Company and Plum, PBC (collectively, Plum) in the District of New Jersey; actions naming Gerber Products Company (Gerber) in either the District of New Jersey or the Eastern District of Virginia; actions naming The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. (Hain) in the Eastern District of New [*3] York; and actions naming Nurture, Inc., in either the Eastern or Southern Districts of New York.
Defendants Beech-Nut, Plum, Gerber, Hain, Nurture, and Sprout Foods, Inc., oppose any centralization, whether on an industry-wide or defendant-specific basis. Alternatively, if the Panel were to centralize this litigation, these defendants propose the District of New Jersey, the Northern District of New York, and the Southern District of New York as the transferee district. Walmart Inc. also opposes centralization and, alternatively, requests that the two actions in which it is named as a defendant be excluded from any MDL. Safeway, Inc., a defendant in one related action, takes no position on centralization, but suggests that any MDL should be centralized in New Jersey or New York.
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2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108444 *; __ F. Supp. 3d __
IN RE: BABY FOOD MARKETING, SALES PRACTICES AND PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION
centralization, PRODUCTS, industry-wide, baby food, related action, defendant-specific, parties