United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to stay
this case pending appeal. Plaintiffs oppose the motion and
the issues are fully briefed. On May 7, 2019, I granted
plaintiffs' motion for class certification. [Doc. # 157].
On May 15, 2019, I denied defendant's motion to dismiss
and to dissolve the preliminary injunction entered in this
case on November 15, 2017. [Doc. # 159]. Defendant appealed
both of these orders to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Defendant sought permission to appeal the decision regarding
class certification under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(f). The Eighth
Circuit granted permission to appeal on June 14, 2019. [Doc.
# 172]. However, defendant did not need to seek permission to
appeal the Order denying the motion to dismiss and to
dissolve the preliminary injunction. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1292(a)(1). The appeals have been consolidated. [Doc.
# 190-1]. Defendant's consolidated brief must be filed
with the Eighth Circuit by July 24, 2019. [Doc. # 190-1].
case is currently set for a bench trial beginning August 26,
2019. The discovery and dispositive motion deadlines have
passed and initial pre-trial submissions are due by August 6,
2019. Defendant moves to stay this case pending the outcome
of the appeal on the ground that the Eighth Circuit could
decide that plaintiffs lack standing to pursue this case,
thereby rendering any decision this Court may reach on the
merits of plaintiffs' case moot. Defendant also submits
that forcing it to trial now when the class could be
decertified would subject it to irreparable harm and
constitute a waste of resources by the parties and the Court.
Importantly, defendant does not request to stay the
preliminary injunction, which would remain in place pending
disposition of the appeal. Plaintiffs oppose the stay,
contending that defendant would not be unduly prejudiced if
forced to go to trial now. Plaintiffs argue that they still
intend to pursue their claims on an individual basis even if
the class is ultimately decertified and the evidence they
submit will remain largely the same whether or not the claims
proceed on a class-wide basis.
Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f) applies to interlocutory
appeals of class certification orders. It provides that an
“appeal does not stay proceedings in the district court
unless the district judge or the court of appeals so
orders.” Id. In determining whether to issue a
Rule 23(f) stay, courts typically consider 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.” See McAllister
v. St. Louis Rams, LLC, 2018 WL 2180247, 4: 16 CV 262
SNLJ, at *1 (Apr. 9, 2018). It is less than clear that this
standard applies to interlocutory appeals taken under 28
U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1). See Association of Equipment
Manufacturers v. Burgum, 2018 WL 1773145, at *1 (D.N.D.
Mar. 3, 2018). In either case, however, a stay of proceedings
pending the outcome of an interlocutory appeal undoubtedly
“falls within the inherent power of a court to manage
its docket.” Id. A district court has broad
discretion to stay proceedings when appropriate to control
its docket, conserve judicial resources, and ensure the
matter is handled with economy of time and effort for itself,
counsel, and litigants. Id. The consideration to
stay proceedings involves an “exercise of judgment,
which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even
balance.” Id. (internal quotation marks and
consideration of all the relevant factors, the Court
concludes that a stay of proceedings pending disposition of
appeal is appropriate. Although the Court disagrees with
defendant on the merits of its standing argument, if it is
successful on appeal then this case must be dismissed.
Staying the bench trial pending appeal conserves judicial
resources and prevents the parties from incurring potentially
needless and substantial litigation expense. Even if the case
is not dismissed for lack of standing, the appellate court
could conclude that class certification is not appropriate.
Although the Court understands plaintiffs' position with
respect to the evidence they intend to present, the legal
landscape could nevertheless be dramatically altered if this
case proceeds solely on the individual claims of the named
plaintiffs. Given that plaintiffs seek only prospective
injunctive relief, such a ruling could also impact how the
defendant chooses to defend itself in this case. Although
plaintiffs cite the passage of time as a factor weighing in
favor of denying the stay, plaintiffs admit that much of
their evidence will consist of that already presented to the
Court in the preliminary injunction hearing. Moreover,
discovery is complete. Plaintiffs do not cite any impediment
to their ability to effectively prepare for trial if
proceedings are stayed pending appeal. Instead, the parties
will have the ability to more effectively present their
evidence and arguments to the Court once the appellate court
decides the issues on appeal. Finally, as defendant is not
requesting a stay of the preliminary injunction the Court
concludes that plaintiffs' interests and the public's
interest will be protected during the stay.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's
motion to stay  is granted as follows: this case is
removed from the August 26, 2019, trial docket and will be
reset, if necessary, by further Order of this Court. All
deadlines relating to pre-trial compliance set out in the
Case Management Order [Doc. #81] are stayed and will be reset
by further Order of this Court. All proceedings in this case
are stayed pending disposition of defendant's
consolidated appeal with the Eighth Circuit Court of ...