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Monday, September 16, 2019

JPML set to hear arguments next month over transfer requests

By Bethany Krajelis | Aug 21, 2013

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will consider dozens of transfer-related requests next month, including two that could affect a pair of lawsuits pending in southern Illinois’ federal court.

The JPML will meet Sept. 26 in Philadelphia, where they will hear arguments in 11 matters in which requests to transfer and create multidistrict litigation have been made. The panel will also consider various requests in about two dozen other matters without hearing arguments.

Out of the 11 matters designated for oral argument next month, two involve issues at the crux of a pair of class action lawsuits brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

One deals with class action suits over a security breach to Schnuck Markets Inc.’s electronic payment system and the other focuses on claims brought against H&R Block over delayed tax returns.

The transfer request in the matter against Schnucks involves four cases, one each from the Eastern District of Missouri, the Central District of Illinois, the Northern District of Illinois and the Southern District of Illinois, according to the JPML hearing schedule.

The class action suit pending in the Southern District of Illinois was brought in May by Laverne Rippy.

U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan in July granted Rippy’s request to stay briefing on Schnucks' motion to transfer the suit until the JPML issues a ruling on the pending transfer request before it.

Rippy’s suit is one of a handful of federal lawsuits brought against Schnucks in connection with a security breach that the plaintiffs claim may have compromised the credit and debit card information of millions of customers between December 2012 and March 2013.

The grocery store chain has said that only card numbers and expiration dates were stolen, not cardholders’ names, addresses or anything else.

Rippy claims in her suit that the breach not only compromised her information, but also forced her and other members of her proposed class to spend hours canceling their compromised cards, activating replacement cards and re-establishing automatic withdrawal payment authorizations

Although the JPML only lists four cases on its hearing schedule for this matter, court documents show Schnucks has been with five similar suits over the security breach, as well as a class action complaint in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis in Missouri.

In June, the plaintiff in one of two federal suits filed in Missouri asked the JPML to consolidate the five suits in the Eastern District of Missouri.

Schnucks in late June filed a motion to transfer Rippy’s suit to the Eastern District of Missouri, which is where the first of the five federal suits was filed.

The grocery store chain asserted in its motion that the Eastern District of Missouri would be “the most logical and convenient forum for this litigation” as it “best promotes the convenience of the parties and the interests of justice.”

St. Louis attorney Jeffrey A. Millar and Wood River attorneys Thomas and Peter Maag represent Rippy and the proposed class.

Belleville attorney Russell K. Scott, Colorado attorney Paul G. Karlsgodt and Ohio attorney Daniel R. Warren represent Schnucks in Rippy's suit.

Also next month, the JPML will hear arguments over HRB Tax Group Inc.'s motion to transfer several suits that claim it erroneously prepared certain tax forms to the Western District of Missouri.

This matter, according to the JPML hearing schedule, involves 13 suits, including one from the Southern District of Illinois. The other suits were brought in federal courts in California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Southern District of Illinois suit was filed in May by Ursula Millett and Jeanine Sanlorenzo. It names HRB Tax Group and HRB Technology LLC as defendants.

The two women, as well as the plaintiffs in the other suits, claim that the defendants’ erroneously prepared tax returns that included forms for education credits.

They assert that H&R Block admitted that it failed to enter certain information in Form 8863 to claim their education credits, which they assert delayed refunds for about 600,000 tax returns for at least six weeks.

The lines determining eligibility for these credits previously could be left blank and still indicate qualification, but the suit states that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) started to require that certain information be entered into these lines at the start of the 2012 tax season.

H&R Block’s tax software, however, “continued to permit the lines to be left blank, which has resulted in the delay of thousands of refunds,” according to the suit that goes on to note that the provider’s CEO issued a public statement that acknowledged the mistake and apologized.

The H&R Block defendants in June filed a motion to compel Sanlorenzo to arbitration, asserting that her claims are required to be heard in arbitration because she signed a Client Service Agreement providing so.

In July, Chief Judge David Herndon dismissed Sanlorenzo’s claims without prejudice and earlier this month, granted the defendants’ motion to stay the case pending the JPML’s decision on their transfer motion.

Edward Wallace, Kenneth Wexler and Amy Keller of Wexler Wallace LLP in Chicago represent Millett. Sherrie Savett and Eric Lechtzin of Berger & Montague in Philadelphia represented Sanlorenzo.

W. Jason Rankin, an attorney with HeplerBroom in Edwardsville, represents the defendants in Millett’s suit.

For a full list of the matters set to be heard at the JPML hearing next month, go to

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