The oral arguments were quite helpful to the Panel and seemed to focus on several important issues. Some attorneys questioned whether one judge or particular judge would have the necessary time and resources to handle such a complex, multi-faceted MDL. Others argued that the individual personal injury cases might become sidetracked by larger, more complex class action economic loss cases. These are absolutely legitimate concerns. The Panel's decision addresses these concerns and expresses our confidence that the federal judiciary is well equipped to handle this litigation under Section 1407.Each of the actions currently before the Panel asserts economic damages on behalf of certain classes and/or individuals stemming from an alleged defect in certain Toyota vehicles that causes sudden, unintended acceleration. The cases involve common questions of fact. No doubt, centralization under Section 1407 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. Consequently, centralization will create convenience for the parties and witnesses and will promote the more just and efficient conduct of this litigation.The Panel has given considerable thought to the suitability of centralizing the personal injury and wrongful death cases with the economic damage cases that are currently before the Panel. Without prejudging the merits of any later-filed motion to vacate a conditional transfer order in this docket, and based upon the hearing record made, we are initially persuaded that the centralized proceedings should eventually include the related personal injury and wrongful death actions. The liability discovery in all the cases will certainly overlap. By their very nature, the personal injury and wrongful death claims will require considerable individual discovery in addition to the common discovery in each case. We are confident that the transferee judge can design the kind of distinct discovery tracks often employed to address these concerns. In our experience, these are recurring issues that transferee judges regularly and successfully coordinate.The parties have suggested a number of very acceptable transferee districts and judges. However, for the following reasons, we have settled upon the Central District of California as the most appropriate choice. Toyota maintains its United States corporate headquarters within this district,and relevant documents and witnesses are likely located there. Far more actions are pending there than in any other district. Among the cases pending there are potential tag-along cases that assert personal injury or wrongful death claims. After consulting with Chief Judge Audrey B. Collins, we have selected Judge James V. Selna as the transferee judge. He is a well-regarded and skilled jurist. Moreover, Judge Selna's 28 years of private law practice at the very highest levels and in some of the most complex cases leaves him well prepared for a case of this magnitude.Some counsel did express concern about the docket conditions in this district. The ability and willingness of even the most experienced judges to devote the necessary time to a complex MDL is always a factor in our assignments. In this particular instance, our consultations with Judge Selna and Chief Judge Collins convince us that Judge Selna is positioned to devote all the time necessary to manage and decide the important issues these cases raise.
Blawgletter notes that Judge Selna didn't have any of the Toyota cases before the Panel's order. Two of his colleagues did. The assignment of the cases to Judge Selna thus deviates from the normal rule that the first judge to get an MDL-worthy cases in the transferee district also handles the MDL. The Panel doesn't note the deviation but does explain why it chose Judge Selna — his status as a "well-regarded and skilled jurist", his "28 years of private law practice at the very highest levels and in some of the most complex cases", and his resulting preparation "for a case of this magnitude."