By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2015 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) – The clerk of court of the Central District Court of California in Los Angeles had started notifying various lawyers across the United States, who had filed class action suits against Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and American champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. on “match pay-per-view litigation” that “this case has been transferred to the calendar of Judge R. Gary Klausner for all proceedings.”
Madelina Guerrero, Deputy Clerk of Judge Klausner, told the lawyers of 32 class action suits that, “on all documents subsequently filed in this case, please substitute the initials RGK after the case number in place of the initials of the prior judge so that the case number will read: CF15-03376 RGK (PLAx).”
Last Aug. 17, a five-judge panel led by Chair Judge Sarah S. Vance of the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled in its transfer order that “(a)fter weighing all relevant factors, we select the Central District of California as the transferee district for this litigation. The Central District of California has the largest number of related actions of any district, and several plaintiffs and defendants support centralization in this district, both in the first instance and in the alternative.”
The panel, which is also, composed of four other judges namely Lewis A. Kaplan, Ellen Segal Huvelle, R. David Proctor and Catherine D. Perry added that “The Central District of California also has a significant nexus to this litigation. Pacquiao allegedly trained for the Fight, suffered the shoulder injury, and sough medical treatment at locations within the district.
“Thus documentary evidence and witnesses concerning the injury at the center of this dispute likely will be located within the Central District of California. The district also presents a convenient and accessible forum with the necessary judicial resources and expertise to manage this litigation efficiently.
“By appointing the Honorable R. Gary Klausner to preside over this matter, we select a jurist with multidistrict litigation experience and the ability to steer this large potentially complicated litigation on an efficient and prudent course.”
A plaintiff in an action moved to centralize pre-trial proceedings as there are ten actions pending in eight districts. The case arose from “allegations that defendants fraudulently concealed a shoulder injury suffered by Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao approximately one month before a May 2, 2015 professional boxing match between Pacquiao and Mayweather (the Fight), which was broadcast nationally on a “pay-per-view” basis.”
The action was also brought on behalf of overlapping nationwide or state putative classes of purchasers of the pay-per-view Fight.
While a plaintiff in the District of Maryland opposes centralization, all other responding parties support centralization, but propose a number of potential transferee districts.
The transfer order also said defendants Pacquiao, Top Rank, Inc., Michael Koncz, Robert Arum, Todd DuBoef, Frederick Roach and Home Box Office, Inc. (HBO), collectively called the Pacquiao Defendants, as well as plaintiffs in six related actions, support the centralization in the Central District of California. While two of these related actions asked the Panel to exclude claims against the pay-per-view provider defendants such as HBO from centralized proceedings.
Defendants Mayweather, Mayweather Promotions, LLC, and Showtime Networks, Inc., as well as plaintiffs in 13 related actions, support centralization of the case in the District of Nevada.
Plaintiffs in three related actions support centralization in the Southern District of New York. Each of these districts is supported in the alternative by several parties.
The Southern District of California, the Southern District of Florida, and the Northern District of Illinois are each proposed by plaintiffs in one action. While several parties proposed the Eastern District of New York and the District of New Jersey in the alternative as potential transferee districts.
On the basis of the papers filed, the panel said, and on the hearing session held, “We find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization of this litigation in the Central District of California will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.
“These actions share factual questions arising from allegations that Defendant Pacquiao suffered a severe torn rotator cuff injury to his right shoulder approximately one month before the Fight.
“Plaintiffs in each of the actions allege that Pacquiao and the other defendants failed to disclose this injury to the public, and, in fact, misrepresented Pacquiao’s health prior to the Fight, ostensibly so as not to risk the alleged $300 million in revenue from pay-per-view purchases of the Fight” and that the “public were fraudulently induced to purchase the pay-per-view showing of the Fight.”
As the Pacquiao Defendants insist the “characterization of the fact is incorrect,” the panel said the “nature of Pacquiao’s injury – such as when it occurred and its severity – likely will require significant factual, and possibly expert, discovery. Other common factual questions, such as whether the other defendants knew of Pacquiao’s injury, are sufficiently complex to merit centralization given the large number of related actions.”
The panel concluded, “Where common factual issues exist, the presence of different legal theories among the actions is not a bar to centralization. The actions involve overlapping putative classes of pay-per-view purchasers. Centralization 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.”