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In Re: Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practices Litigation

May 6, 2013

IN RE: MOTOR FUEL TEMPERATURE SALES PRACTICES LITIGATION


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kathryn H. Vratil United States District Judge

This Document Relates To:

Case No. 07-1840-KHV

Rushing, et al. v. Alon USA, Inc. et al.,

D. Kan.

Case No. 07-2300-KHV,

N.D. Cal.

Case No. 06-07621-PJH, Lerner, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corp. et al.,

D. Kan.

Case No. 07-2405-KHV, C.D. Cal.

Case No. 07-01216-GHK-FMO, and Wyatt, et al. v. B.P. Am. Corp., et al., D. Kan. Case No. 07-2507-KHV, S.D. Cal.

Case No. 07-01754-BTM-JMA.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On April 9, 2013, the Court ordered plaintiffs and Chevron to show good cause in writing why the pretrial orders in the above-captioned California cases should not be amended to conform with each other such that the same claims are asserted against Chevron in each of the cases.*fn1 Order To Show Cause (Doc. #4546).

This matter is before the Court on the parties' responses.*fn2

Plaintiffs ask the Court for permission to amend the pretrial orders and have submitted draft proposed amended pretrial orders. Chevron opposes amending the pretrial orders because the proposed amendments would amount to an improper de facto consolidation and transfer of venue and because they are untimely, unduly prejudicial and inconsistent with the Court's prior orders. Allowing the requested amendments is well within the Court's broad discretion. The Court will allow plaintiffs to conform the pretrial orders to each other as described below.

In these three California cases, the Court has certified four of plaintiffs' claims: (1) breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing (Lerner), (2) unjust enrichment (Lerner and Wyatt), (3) violation of the California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. (Lerner, Rushing and Wyatt), and (4) violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedy Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq. (Rushing). Although Chevron must defend all four claims in California district courts, no single California case includes all four claims. The Court has severed all claims against Chevron in these cases, and stated that it intends to remand the claims to their respective transferor courts with the thought that the transferor courts would transfer two of the cases to one district under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), and consolidate the three cases for trial and any other proceedings.

On further reflection, especially as the prospect of class certification became certain, the Court became concerned that its approach was opening the door to expensive, unnecessary and protracted litigation on procedural issues that might do nothing to advance a disposition on the merits and might yield inconsistent orders in the three transferor districts on remand. Furthermore, the Court became increasingly concerned about the possibility that the cases might not be consolidated for trial and that expensive, unnecessary and protracted litigation would be required to determine any res judicata or collateral estoppel effects of the first judgment. The Court therefore suggested amending the pretrial orders in each of the three cases to include all four of the claims against Chevron in California. The amendment would not change Chevron's exposure in the California cases whatsoever -- Chevron will have to defend the same claims by the same plaintiff class whether or not the pretrial orders are amended. The only difference is that Chevron will be allowed ...


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