Google's John Mueller said in a Google+ webmaster live hangout this morning that having duplicate title tags and meta descriptions would not lead to a search quality issue specifically around the Panda algorithm.
John Mueller said that titles and meta tags are essentially not a sign of search quality. He added that "just because you have duplicate titles and meta tags, it doesn’t mean you have a quality problem with your web site." Instead he said that Google looks more at the site quality as a whole.
John did recommend that if you do have these duplicates (and webmaster tools does have a report for this) that it "might be worth looking at and fixing" but he added it "won’t be affecting the quality of the site."
He said this at the 46 minute mark in the hangout, you can jump to it directly in the embedded video below:
Surprised by this response? I am sure you will let me know in the comments below...
Forum discussion at Google+.