United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR STAY OF
R. THORSON U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case was filed following the termination of Plaintiff from
his employment as a train conductor. After his termination,
Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department of
Labor-OSHA-alleging that his dismissal was in retaliation for
reporting alleged hazardous safety concerns and an injury.
OSHA dismissed the complaint, and Plaintiff appealed the
dismissal to an Administrative Law Judge, who on January 11,
2019, also dismissed Plaintiff's claims.
January 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Review with
the Administrative Review Board, seeking review of the
ALJ's January 11, 2019 Order. Defendant interjected with
a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that pursuant to 29
C.F.R. § 1982.110 Plaintiff untimely filed his petition
outside of the fourteen-day deadline. The Administrative
Review Board granted Defendant's motion. Plaintiff then
moved for reconsideration, arguing that the period to file
his petition was extended by three days due to Federal Rule
of Appellate Procedure 26(c), and arguing also that he lacked
sufficient time to file the appeal because he received the
January 11, 2019 decision on January 22, 2019. The
Administrative Review Board granted reconsideration, reversed
course, and found that Plaintiff's petition was timely
filed. On April 9, 2019, Defendant appealed the
Administrative Review Board's decision to the Eighth
Circuit. The Eighth Circuit case is currently pending; full
briefing was completed on August 8, 2019.
Plaintiff filed a Petition for Review with the Administrative
Review Board, seeking review of the ALJ's January 11,
2019 Order, he also filed a Complaint with this Court on
February 11, 2019. (Doc. No. 1.) On February 28, 2019,
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss; that motion remains
pending. (Doc. No. 9.) A Pretrial Scheduling Order has not
yet been entered in the case.
matter is now before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Stay Proceedings. (Doc. No. 17.) Specifically, Defendant
requests that all proceedings in this matter be stayed
pending resolution of the issues currently on appeal with the
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Appellate Court File No.
19-1739. Defendant asserts that the Eighth Circuit will
decide whether Plaintiff timely appealed the ALJ's Order
dismissing his claims, and if the Eighth Circuit concludes
that Plaintiff did not timely appeal, then the ALJ's
order became the final order of the Secretary of Labor and
this Court does not have jurisdiction to review
Plaintiff's asserted claims here. (Doc. No. 19,
Def.'s Mem. of Law in Supp. of its Mot. to Stay
Proceedings 1.) Defendant requests a stay so the Court can
benefit from the Eighth Circuit's ruling, arguing that a
ruling would be dispositive and could be determinative of
whether the Court has jurisdiction, and would conserve
resources without prejudicing Plaintiff. (Id. at
5-8.) Plaintiff, however, contends that the Administrative
Review Board's (“ARB”) decision is unlikely
to be disturbed and that Defendant has failed to demonstrate
likelihood of success on appeal. (Doc. No. 23, Pl.'s Mem.
of Law in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot to Stay Proceedings 2.)
hearing was held before this Court on the matter on June 21,
2019. (Doc. No. 27.) Based on the file, submissions, and
argument from counsel, the Court grants Defendant's
motion for the following reasons.
to stay litigation is within the Court's inherent power
to control its docket and rests in its sound discretion.
Landis v. North Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936);
Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 446
F.3d 808, 816 (8th Cir. 2006). “[T]he power to stay
proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every
court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket
with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants.” Emerson Elec. Co. v. Black &
Decker Mfg. Co., 606 F.2d 234, 237 n.6 (8th Cir. 1979)
(quoting Landis, 299 U.S. at 254).
standard factors weighed in this District on a motion to stay
proceedings based on the outcome of other cases on appeal
are: “(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.” Hilton v.
Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987); see Robinson
v. Bank of America, No. 11-2284 (MJD/LIB), 2012 WL
2885587, *1 (D. Minn. July 13, 2012) (including likelihood of
success on the merits and prejudice to the parties as factors
to consider on a motion to stay proceedings based on the
outcome of cases on appeal) (citing Hilton, 481 U.S.
at 776). Other “[f]actors relevant to the district
court's consideration when determining whether to stay
proceedings include maintaining control of its docket,
conserving judicial resources, and providing for the just
determination of cases pending before the court.”
Edens v. Volkswagen Group of Am., Inc., No.
16-cv-0750 (WMW/LIB), 2016 WL 3004629, at *1 (D. Minn. May
24, 2016) (citing Kemp v. Tyson Seafood Grp., Inc.,
19 F.Supp.2d 961, 964-65 (D. Minn. 1998)).
the factors, a stay in this case is warranted. First, a stay
will simplify disputed issues about jurisdiction and conserve
judicial resources. If a stay is not implemented at this
juncture, this Court would proceed to address the pending
motion to dismiss, which may prove moot if this Court is
found to not have jurisdiction, wasting judicial resources.
Entering a stay also allows this Court to avoid making an
inconsistent ruling with the Eighth Circuit and will clarify
what issues, if any, remain for resolution after the Eighth
Circuit's decision. Following the stay, the scope of
discovery and timelines within the case schedule can be
addition, Plaintiff will not be unduly prejudiced by the
stay. This case is in its early stages, and Plaintiff
previously litigated the issue at the administrative level
for more than three years before seeking and obtaining the
right to sue in district court. In fact, Plaintiff made no
argument as to any prejudice he might incur in his brief.
Defendant, on the other hand, asserts that the parties and
the Court risk expending unnecessary time and resources
without a stay if it is found that this Court does not have
jurisdiction over the matter. Plaintiff mentions in his brief
that a stay “will delay the case for a year or more,
and defendant may appeal to a higher court after losing at
the Eighth Circuit.” (Doc. No. 23 at 7.) However, the
parties have confirmed that briefing before the Eighth
Circuit is now complete. (Doc. No. 28.) And a stay entered
now is not indefinite. The Court will only grant a stay
through the Eighth Circuit's decision. After the Eighth
Circuit's decision, the Court will revisit the stay's
scope. Furthermore, if this case does not resolve and
continues following the stay, a scheduling order can be
promptly entered to ensure a just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination of this action consistent with Rule 1 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This factor favors a stay.
last factor-likelihood of success-on the issue of whether
Plaintiff timely appealed the order issued by the
Administrative Law Judge, weighs in Plaintiff's favor,
especially based on the ARB's discretion and decision
finding that the underlying order was inexplicably and
incorrectly dated, and when considering the correct date,
finding the petition for review timely filed. This factor,
however, is the only factor that weighs in Plaintiff's
favor. All of the other factors, including the strong
interest in providing for a just determination of the
Court's cases, weigh in favor of a stay. Therefore, the
Court finds that a limited stay until the Eighth Circuit
issues its decision is appropriate.
foregoing reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
Defendant's Motion to Stay Proceedings (Doc. No. 17) is
GRANTED consistent with ...