The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has denied a plaintiff’s motion to centralize several lawsuits involving recalled infant formula, purportedly contaminated with insects, before a multidistrict litigation (MDL) court for pretrial proceedings. In re: Abbott Labs., Inc., Similac Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2211 (J.P.M.L., decided February 4, 2011).

The panel noted that while it had centralized food-product contamination lawsuits in the past, it would not be appropriate to do so here because individual issues predominated over common ones. According to the panel, “discovery and motion practice may be expected to concern (1) the particular product each plaintiff purchased, (2) any injuries that consumption of the product caused, (3) whether the product contained beetles or beetle larvae, and/or (4) what advertising or other representations were made to each particular plaintiff (and, relatedly, whether the plaintiff relied upon those representations).”

Still, the panel encouraged the parties to pursue a voluntary coordination strategy, “to minimize the potential for duplicative discovery and/or inconsistent pretrial rulings.” The cases that will be litigated separately are: Tosh-Surryhne v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 10-02603 (E.D. Cal.); Gray v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 10-06377 (N.D. Ill.); Brown v. Abbott Labs, Inc., No. 10-06674 (N.D. Ill.); Brander v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 10-03242 (E.D. La.); and Leonard v. Abbott Labs., Inc., No. 10-04676.