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Six plaintiffs pursuing class actions over the gathering of consumer information on pharmaceutical company Web sites will have their cases heard in federal court in Boston under a transfer order issued by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on April 18. The JPMDL transferred six actions pending in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Plaintiff Noah Blumhofe, who has an action pending in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, also was a named plaintiff in a New York action. The panel found that the litigation involves common allegations that industry defendants surreptitiously accessed private information of consumers who visited pharmaceutical Web sites, and that centralization before Massachusetts Judge Joseph Tauro would eliminate duplicative discovery and inconsistent pre-trial rulings. The Southern District of New York had previously ordered the New York cases consolidated, over defendants’ objections. Plaintiffs in that court filed an amended consolidated complaint on Feb. 23. Defendants include Pharmatrak Inc., a Boston-based Internet-tracking service which markets to the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmatrak’s parent, Glocal Communications Ltd., is a British firm that is also named as a defendant. Industry defendants include Pfizer Inc., Pharmacia Corp., SmithKline Beecham PLC, Glaxo Wellcome PLC, Novartis Corp. and American Home Products Corp. Plaintiffs contend that the pharmaceutical companies are utilizing “cookies” or “web bugs” in a system developed by Pharmatrak to surreptitiously collect Internet browsing information and confidential personal data. The plaintiffs allege violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment. The six actions transferred from the Southern District of New York were Schroers v. Pfizer; Barring v. Pfizer; McClary v. Pharmatrak; Perlman v. Pharmatrak; Blumofe v. Pharmatrak; and Darby v. Pharmatrak. Hayes Law Reports offers specialized legal research and publishes monthly litigation reports on e-commerce and technology, insurance, and consumer law issues. More information about Hayes Law Reports can be found at http://www.hayeslawreports.com, and John Hayes may be contacted at [email protected].

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