The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has consolidated several putative class actions against a number of companies alleging they labeled their grated-parmesan products as “100% Parmesan” despite containing cellulose. In re 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., MDL No. 2705 (J.P.M.L., transfer order entered June 2, 2016). The consolidated cases include 16 lawsuits and 33 potential tag-along actions filed against Kraft, Target, Albertsons and others in jurisdictions across the country.
The parties petitioned for centralization in the federal courts of Missouri, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and other states, but the court chose the Northern District of Illinois as “a convenient and accessible forum for actions filed throughout the country regarding products sold nationwide.” The parties also disputed whether the cases should be consolidated into a single multi-product MDL or separate MDLs grouped by the product or primary corporate defendant; the court held that “a single, multi-product MDL is necessary to ensure the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. In many situations, we are hesitant to bring together actions involving separate defendants and products, but when, as here, there is significant overlap in the central factual issues, parties, and claims, we find that creation of a single MDL is warranted.”