An order signed last Friday by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has transferred more than 40 lawsuits to federal court in Kansas City, Mo., finding that centralization would serve the parties and witnesses and promote the efficient resolution of the litigation. The lawsuit concerns an August hack exposing approximately 54 million T-Mobile customers’ personal information.
As previously reported, cases streamed in after news of the data breach broke, with some filed in the Western District of Washington where T-Mobile is headquartered. The class actions alleged that T-Mobile is liable to consumers who had information like their name, address, T-Mobile account PINs, and Social Security Numbers stolen by malicious hackers. The complaints stated various causes of action including negligence, breach of contract, and violations of state consumer protection laws.
Last week’s order explained that one plaintiff filed a motion to centralize the litigation in the Western District of Washington or, alternatively, in the Western District of Missouri. Plaintiffs in 22 other actions responded to the motion, proposing various districts. T-Mobile supported consolidation and transfer to the Western District of Missouri.
The JPML adjudged that district to be the appropriate transferee district not only because of the parties’ preferences, but also because it presents a geographically central and accessible venue and has the capacity to manage the litigation effectively. The order further specified that the cases involve common questions of fact including whether T-Mobile’s data security practices met industry standards, how the hackers accessed the company’s systems, and the extent of personal information disclosed by the breach.
As for efficiency, the panel said that“[c]entralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.” The case is captioned In Re: T-Mobile Customer Data Security Breach Litigation and will proceed before Judge Brian C. Wimes.