Plaintiffs Seek Baby Food Litigation Consolidation, Transfer to Southern District of Florida

Two of the plaintiffs in the ongoing multidistrict baby food litigation against Gerber Products Company and others have joined other plaintiffs in requesting related actions to be consolidated and transferred to a new venue, per a Tuesday filing; however, unlike other movants hoping to proceed in the Eastern District of New York, the pair argued that the case should resume in the Southern District of Florida.

This filing is one of many across the country related to allegations that certain baby food products contain high levels of heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury that came after an early February report by the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy exposed these allegedly “dangerous levels” of toxins in the products, as Law Street Media reported.

Transferring and consolidating cases falls under the discretion of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to “maximize the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the action,” according to the filing, “when common questions of fact across numerous actions creates the potential for duplicative discovery, inconsistent pretrial rulings, inconvenience to the parties, and an unnecessary exhaust of judicial resources.”

Andrea Kelly and Cole Millican argued that the Southern District of Florida would be a strong venue to centralize proceedings for various reasons, including the probability that a significant number of class members already live in Florida and that there are more children younger than 5 years old in Florida than in New York, by about 10,000, according to the complaint. Further, the litigants emphasized the accessibility of the district court given its proximity to major airports.

The plaintiffs also noted that Judge Anuraag Singhal of the Florida district court, whom they would prefer to adjudicate the proposed consolidated action, already is presiding over one case among the multidistrict suits, Kelly et al. v. Gerber Products Co., giving the judge a familiarity with the case.

“Judge Singhal is a highly respected, persistent, and able jurist who has presided over numerous complex class actions and is more than adequately equipped to handle complex litigation including the complexities that could arise in a multidistrict litigation,” the plaintiffs contended.

Kelly and Millican are represented by Frank Law Firm P.A.