In re EDNY Cathode Ray Tube Antitrust Cases
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER dated 9/29/17 that defendants' motions for reconsideration are denied. ( Ordered by Judge Brian M. Cogan on 9/29/2017 ) (Guzzi, Roseann)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
----------------------------------------------------------IN RE EDNY CATHODE RAY TUBE
----------------------------------------------------------COGAN, District Judge.
These matters, formerly member cases in the In re Cathode Ray Tube Antitrust Litigation
multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) in the Northern District of California (the “CRT MDL”), have
been remanded to this Court for trial purposes following the resolution of all pre-trial matters in
the CRT MDL Court. The remaining defendants move this Court to reconsider, pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), the CRT MDL court’s denial of defendants’ summary
judgment motions. 1 The Court assumes the parties’ familiarity with the facts and procedural
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides that an order “that adjudicates fewer than
all the claims or rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . may be revised at any time
before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties’ rights and
liabilities.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). “Motions under Rule 54(b) are subject to the law of the case
doctrine.” McGee v. Dunn, 940 F. Supp. 2d 93, 99 (S.D.N.Y. 2013).
“The law of the case doctrine commands that when a court has ruled on an issue, that
decision should generally be adhered to by that court in subsequent stages in the same case
Defendants filed letters in 17-cv-02365; 17-cv-02368; 17-cv-02363; 17-cv-03283;17-cv-03285; and17-cv-03409,
requesting that this Court reconsider the CRT MDL's denial of their summary judgment motions. Those letters were
filed prior to the July 20, 2017 consolidation of those cases into the current docket. The letter requests are
considered here as motions and are jointly decided.
unless cogent and compelling reasons militate otherwise.” Johnson v. Holder, 564 F.3d 95, 99
(2d Cir. 2009) (internal quotations omitted). Accordingly, earlier decisions in a case “may not
usually be changed unless there is an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of
new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice.” Official
Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of Color Tile, Inc. v. Coopers & Lybrand, LLP, 322 F.3d 147,
167 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal quotations omitted).
The law of the case doctrine applies with equal or heightened force to decisions made by
an MDL transferee court. See Deutsch v. Novartis Pharm. Corp., 768 F. Supp. 2d 420, 428-29
(E.D.N.Y. 2011). In Deutsch, Judge Spatt noted that “it is well-established that ‘[o]rders issued
by a federal transferee court remain binding if the case is sent back to the transferor court.’” Id.
at 428–29 (quoting In re Zyprexa Prods. Liab, Litig., 467 F. Supp. 2d 256, 273 (E.D.N.Y.
2006)); see also Aramony v. United Way of Am., 254 F.3d 403, 410 (2d Cir. 2001) (discussing
the law-of-the-case doctrine in general). The transferor court may only revisit a transferee
court’s decision in “exceptional cases.” Deutsch, 768 F. Supp. 2d at 429 (citing Manual for
Complex Litigation § 20.133) (“Although the transferor judge has the power to vacate or modify
rulings made by the transferee judge, subject to comity and ‘law of the case’ considerations,
doing so in the absence of a significant change of circumstances would frustrate the purposes of
centralized pretrial proceedings.”). A transferor court’s reversal of an MDL court’s decisions
“undermine[s] the purpose of the [MDL] Act, which authorizes the coordinated and consolidated
pretrial proceedings of civil actions involving one or more common issues of fact for the
convenience of parties and witnesses and to promote the just and efficient conduct of such
actions. Id. (internal quotations and alterations omitted).
Defendants here do not allege “an intervening change of controlling law,” “new
evidence,” or “the need to correct a clear error.” Instead, they claim that reconsideration is
called for because “[t]he orders in question each raise fundamental legal issues that would be
decided differently under Second Circuit authority.” This argument is unavailing.
As the transferee court, the CRT MDL Court properly applied Ninth Circuit
interpretation of federal issues to its analysis of the motions before it. See Menowitz v. Brown,
991 F.2d 36, 40 (2d Cir. 1993) (the transferee court should apply its own interpretation of law to
issues before it); In re: Gen. Motors LLC Ignition Switch Litig., No. 14-MC-2543, 2016 WL
3920353, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. July 15, 2016) (holding that the Circuit precedent of the transferee
court, not the transferor court, is applicable to questions of federal law in cases transferred
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407). The CRT MDL Court was not bound by Second Circuit
interpretations of the issues before it. A transferee court should decide questions before it
“without deferring to the interpretation of the transferor circuit.” In re Pan Am. Corp., 950 F.2d
839, 847 (2d Cir. 1991) (internal quotations omitted).
In the MDL context, even when the transferor court to which a case is remanded applies a
different interpretation of law to a question before the transferee court, the transferee court’s
interpretation should have binding effect as “law of the case, for if it did not, transfers under 28
U.S.C. § 1407 could be counterproductive, i.e., capable of generating rather than reducing the
duplication and protraction Congress sought to check.” In re Korean Air Lines Disaster of Sept.
1, 1983, 829 F.2d 1171, 1176 (D.C. Cir. 1987). “If this were not true, and transferor courts were
free to readjudicate issues determined by transferee courts, transfers pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1407 could become meaningless exercises perpetuating the very duplication they were designed
to eliminate.” In re Korean Air Line Disaster of Sept. 1, 1983, 664 F. Supp. 1488, 1489–90
(D.D.C. 1987). See also In re Air Crash off Long Island, N.Y. on July 17, 1996, 965 F. Supp. 5,
8 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) (noting favorably that the Korean District Court “rejected an argument that
because the cases were transferred to the district court for limited pretrial purposes, after which
the cases would be remanded to the transferor district, it was inappropriate for the transferee
court to create a conflict between the law of the case and the law of the transferor circuit.”).
The CRT MDL Court properly applied the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of federal law.
It would be inimical to the purpose of the MDL statute for this Court to relitigate decisions made
by the CRT MDL Court, simply because the courts sit in different circuits. The decisions of the
CRT MDL Court are law of the case. Absent “an intervening change of controlling law,” “new
evidence,” or “the need to correct a clear error,” this Court declines to revisit the decisions
rendered by the CRT MDL Court. This Court is not a “court of second chances.” Costco
Wholesale Corp. v. AU Optronics Corp., 2014 WL 4540068, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 11, 2014).
Defendants' motions for reconsideration are denied.
Digitally signed by Brian M.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
September 29, 2017
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