Five class action lawsuits alleging an e-book price fixing conspiracy over the 2010 implementation of the agency model have been consolidated and will be handled in the Southern District of New York following an order from the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation December 9. The order comes after a December 1 hearing before the panel. The defendants will now prepare to file their answers to the suit, the deadline for which had been delayed until after a venue had been named.

“On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these five actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization under Section 1407 in the Southern District of New York will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the brief order reads.

The class actions originated in Northern California on August 9, with a suit filed by firm Hagens Berman, and quickly began to sprawl, with four “copycat” lawsuits filed within weeks. Two subsequent suits, filed in Manhattan, added Random House as a defendant, while another, also in Manhattan, added Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But, as the order notes, the claims and assertions of fact in each suit are nearly identical: that the simultaneous introduction of the agency model by the major publishers reflects an illegal conspiracy to "artificially inflate" e-book prices. Multiple filings are common in consumer class action cases.

“Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, particularly with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary,” the order notes. No date for a hearing has been set.