Embraco Wins Ruling Dismissing Plaintiffs’ Sixth Circuit Appeal in Refrigerant Compressors Antitrust Litigation

September 25, 2013

Cleary Gottlieb, on behalf of its client Embraco, a major global manufacturer of refrigerant compressors, won a Sixth Circuit ruling dismissing for lack of appellate jurisdiction an appeal challenging the partial dismissal of a consolidated complaint in an MDL proceeding. The court issued its ruling on September 25.

Embraco, along with other manufacturers of refrigerant compressors, was named as a defendant in a number of purported class action complaints brought on behalf of direct and indirect purchaser plaintiffs. The claims were consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation into a single proceeding in the Eastern District of Michigan. In that proceeding, all indirect purchaser plaintiffs joined in filing a consolidated amended complaint. The district court dismissed some, but not all, of the indirect purchaser plaintiffs’ claims.

Some of the indirect purchaser plaintiffs sought immediate appeal, arguing that because the district court dismissed all claims that were contained in their individual pre-consolidation complaints, the district court order was final as to them. The Sixth Circuit disagreed, holding that because the appellants chose to file a consolidated complaint in the MDL proceeding that superseded their original complaints, partial dismissal of the consolidated complaint was not a final and appealable order.

This Sixth Circuit’s decision marks the first time any federal circuit court has ruled on this issue. Noting that the MDL procedure is intended to serve efficiency goals, the Sixth Circuit also offered some practical guidance regarding the use of master complaints in the MDL setting.