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IN RE FORD MOTOR CO.
October 18, 2002
IN RE FORD MOTOR CO. CROWN VICTORIA POLICE INTERCEPTOR PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION MONTGOMERY TOWNSHIP, ET AL.
FORD MOTOR CO.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. Terrell Hodges, Chairman.
This litigation presently consists of six actions: two actions in the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and one action each in the Western
District of Arkansas, the District of New Jersey, the Northern District
of Ohio, and the Southern District of Texas.*fn1 Before the Panel is a
motion, as amended, by defendant Ford Motor Company (Ford) and its
dealers*fn2 to centralize these actions, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407,
for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings in any federal
district in which a constituent action is pending. The Ohio plaintiff
supports the motion and suggests centralization in the Northern District
of Ohio. The New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas plaintiffs oppose
centralization and/or ask the Panel to defer its Section 1407 ruling in
order to permit the transferor courts to rule on pending motions to
remand these actions to their respective state courts. If the Panel deems
centralization appropriate, these parties suggest selection of the
district in which their respective action is pending as transferee
On the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, the Panel
finds that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of
fact, and that centralization under Section 1407 in the Northern District
of Ohio will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and
promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. Common factual
questions arise because all actions focus on allegations that the
vertical-behind-axle fuel tanks in 1992-2002 Ford Crown Victoria police
interceptor vehicles result in an increased risk of injury or death from
fuel fed fires, if the vehicles are involved in high-speed rear-end
collisions. In addition, all actions are brought by counties,
municipalities and other political divisions within each state on behalf
of nationwide, statewide or other purported classes which seek damages or
other relief based upon economic injury arising from this alleged
defect. Centralization under Section 1407 is thus necessary in order to
avoid duplication of discovery, prevent inconsistent or repetitive
pretrial rulings (such as those regarding class certification), and
conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.
We note that any pending motions to remand these actions to their
respective state courts can be presented to and decided by the transferee
judge. See, e.g., In re Ivy, 901 F.2d 7 (2d Cir. 1990); In re Prudential
Insurance Company of America Sales Practices Litigation;
170 F. Supp.2d 1346, 1347-48 (J.P.M.L. 2001).
Given the geographic dispersal of constituent actions and potential
tag-along actions, no district stands out as the focal point for this
docket. In selecting the Northern District of Ohio as the transferee
district in this docket, we note that i) an action is pending there, and
ii) this district has the capacity to handle this litigation.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, the
actions listed on the attached Schedule A and pending outside the
Northern District of Ohio are transferred to the Northern District of
Ohio and, with the consent of that court, assigned to the Honorable
Donald C. Nugent for ...
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