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Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc. v. Gannon

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 3, 2017

Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., and Medtronic, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
Patrick B. Gannon, Defendant.

          Jonathan S. Parritz, Melissa R. Muro LaMere, Wayne S. Moskowitz, and William Z. Pentelovitch, Maslon LLP, for Plaintiffs.

          Anthony Barrett Haller and Leigh Ann Buziak, Blank Rome LLP, Mary L. Knoblauch, Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie PA, for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant's Expedited Motion to Stay Remand Order Pending Appeal [Doc. No. 42] (“Motion to Stay”). For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The procedural background of this case is detailed in the Court's opinion granting Plaintiffs' motion to remand. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc. v. Gannon, No. 17-cv-943, 2017 WL 4685041 (D. Minn. Oct. 16, 2017). Briefly restated, Defendant Patrick Gannon (“Gannon”) left his employment with Plaintiffs Medtronic, Inc., Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc. (collectively “Medtronic”) and returned to his prior employer, DePuy Spine. (Notice of Removal, Ex. 1, pt. 1 [Doc. No. 1-1], at 23.) Medtronic brought suit in Anoka County District Court, raising several claims against Gannon and DePuy Spine. (Id. at 43-45.) The parties settled all claims but one, leaving Gannon the only remaining defendant. (Id., pt. 3 [Doc. No. 1-3], at 115-123.)

         With the dismissal of DePuy Spine from the case, Gannon removed to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 1].) He then moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and further moved for dismissal based on improper venue or transfer to the federal district court for the District of Massachusetts. (See Def.'s Mem. in Supp. of Renewed Notice of Mot. to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction and Improper Venue, or, in the Alternative, to Transfer [Doc. No. 6] (“Def.'s Mem. in Supp.”), at 1.) Medtronic moved to remand to Anoka County District Court. (See Mem. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. to Remand to Anoka County District Court [Doc. No. 15] (“Pl.'s Mem. in Supp.”), at 1-2.)

         Medtronic's remand motion was based upon a forum selection clause in one of three contractual documents that Gannon executed at the beginning of his employment. See Medtronic, 2017 WL 4685041, at *3. Gannon argued that Medtronic's claim against him arose from a different contract and that the forum selection clause should not be read to apply to this dispute. Id. The Court considered the parties' arguments and ruled, based on well-settled principles of contract law, that the three contractual documents should be read together as one employment contract. Id. at *3-5. Accordingly, the Court found that the forum selection clause applied to this employment dispute and that Gannon had waived his right to remove to federal court. Id. at *5. The Court granted Medtronic's motion and ordered remand to Anoka County District Court. Id.

         Gannon now moves for a stay of the Court's remand order pending his appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Motion to Stay; Def. Patrick Gannon's Mem. in Supp. of Expedited Mot. to Stay Remand Or. Pending Appeal [Doc. No. 44] (“Def.'s Mem.”), at 1.) He argues that a stay is warranted because his appeal raises substantial and important legal questions about the Eighth Circuit's “clear and unequivocal” standard for waiver of the right to remand, and because proceeding with the case in Anoka County District Court would cause him irreparable harm. (Def.'s Mem., at 7-15.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Generally, orders remanding a case to the state court from which it was removed are not reviewable. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d). A narrow exception applies for orders of remand not based on a procedural defect in the removal process or on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Things Remembered, Inc. v. Petrarca, 516 U.S. 124, 127-28 (1995). Thus, there is no question that this Court's order of remand to Anoka County District Court, based upon a forum selection clause, is appealable to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. See Pub. Sch. Ret. Sys. of Mo. v. State St. Bank & Tr. Co., 640 F.3d 821, 825 (8th Cir. 2011). Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 8(a)(1) requires that a motion to stay an order pending appeal must first be made in the district court.

         In considering a motion to stay an order pending appeal, the Court considers four factors: “(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.” Brady v. Nat'l Football League, 640 F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987)).[1]“The most important factor is the appellant's likelihood of success on the merits.” Brady, 640 F.3d at 789. The party seeking a stay bears the burden of establishing its propriety. See Fargo Women's Health Org. v. Schafer, 18 F.3d 526, 538 (8th Cir. 1994). “A stay is not a matter of right, even if irreparable injury might otherwise result.” Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433 (2009) (quoting Virginian Ry. Co. v. United States, 272 U.S. 658, 672 (1926)). “It is instead ‘an exercise of judicial discretion, ' and ‘[t]he propriety of its issue is dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case.'” Id. (quoting Virginian, 272 U.S. at 672-73).

         A. Likelihood of Success on the Merits

         Gannon argues that his appeal raises a substantial legal question as to the application of the Eighth Circuit's “clear and unequivocal” standard for waiver of the right to remand. (Def.'s Mem., at 7.) Gannon asserts that this Court incorrectly applied a less stringent standard when it looked to contract principles and extrinsic evidence to determine whether the three contractual ...


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