On Friday, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered five antitrust cases brought by numerous auto body shops in five separate federal districts—including the Southern District of Indiana—consolidated in the Orlando Division of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. (Full disclosure: The Bose McKinney & Evans team of Brian Jones, Curtis Jones, and Joel Nagle represents one of the defendants in the Indiana antitrust case.) The order is attached below.
As the Panel noted, the plaintiffs in the cases are “principally individual collision repair shops in five states. They allege a conspiracy in the automobile insurance industry to suppress the reimbursement rates for automobile collision repairs, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and various state laws.” Further,
This litigation involves allegations of a complex anticompetitive conspiracy among the nation’s leading insurance carriers and dozens of regional companies, as well as allegations that the databases of three third-party information services companies—ADP, CCC, and Mitchell—played a substantial role in facilitating the alleged scheme.
Collectively, the plaintiffs sued over 80 insurers. In response to the plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate all pending cases in the Southern District of Mississippi, the insurers’ universally opposed consolidation in Mississippi, but varied as to where the cases should be consolidated, if at all.
Ultimately, the Panel found that consolidation “will offer the benefit of placing all related actions before a single judge who can structure pretrial proceedings to accommodate all parties’ legitimate discovery needs while ensuring that common witnesses are not subjected to duplicative discovery demands.” Because the five cases involved common questions of fact, “centralization of the actions on the motion in the Middle District of Florida will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”