United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CLIFFORD SHIRLEY, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and referral Orders [Doc. 135]
[Doc. 44] of the Chief District Judge.
before the Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay [Doc.
37], filed in Boling, v. CSX Transp., , No.
3:16-cv-488, and the Plaintiffs' Motion for Stay [Doc.
31], filed in Payne, v. CSX Transp., et
al., No. 3:16-cv-489. Both Defendants have objected to the
requested stays. The Motions are now ripe for adjudication.
Accordingly, for the reasons more fully explained below, the
Court finds the Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay [Doc. 37],
filed in No. 3:16-cv 488, and the Plaintiffs' Motion for
Stay [Doc. 31], filed in No. 3:16-cv-489, not well-taken, and
they are DENIED.
cases result from a train derailment that occurred in
Maryville, Tennessee, on July 1, 2015. The Complaint [Doc. 1]
in Boling v. CSX Transp. , No. 3:16-cv-488
(“Boling”) is a “mass tort
personal injury action” that alleges negligence,
private nuisance, gross negligence, recklessness, and
infliction of emotional distress, which stems from the train
derailment and release of acrylonitrile. The Complaint [Doc.
1] in Payne, v. CSX Transp., et al., No.
3:16-cv-489 (“Payne”) is also a
“mass tort personal injury action” that alleges
the same theories based on the same incident.
the Defendants in both cases removed to this Court [Doc. 1],
the undersigned consolidated the cases for purposes of
discovery and motion practice. Subsequently, the District
Judge issued Scheduling Orders for both cases on May 4, 2017,
and set the trials for October 15, 2018. With respect to the
instant matters, the Plaintiffs filed for a Motion for Stay
requesting that the Court stay further proceedings pending
the disposition of the consolidated cases of Tipton, v.
CSX Transp., , No. 3:15-cv-00311
POSITIONS OF THE PARITES
support of their Motions, the Plaintiffs argue that it would
promote judicial economy to allow the resolution of the
Tipton matter, which is a class action case
involving the evacuees of the July 1, 2015 Maryville train
derailment. Furthermore, the Plaintiffs aver that a stay upon
the resolution of Tipton would simplify the
liability issues in each case, if not dispose of both cases
entirely through settlement discussions. In addition, the
Plaintiffs assert that staying the cases would not cause the
Defendants undue prejudice or tactical disadvantage. Finally,
the Plaintiffs argue that they would suffer hardship in
responding to extensive discovery if each case is not stayed.
Union Tank responds that the Motion for Stay should be
denied, claiming that the Plaintiffs have not presented a
compelling reason for the Court to stay all proceedings, as
the issues in the present cases are not identical to the
issues pending in the Tipton case. Defendant Union
Tank acknowledges that certain identical issues exist between
the present matters and the Tipton case, but it
argues that a specific discovery plan and scheduling order
could prevent the duplication of effort. In addition,
Defendant Union Tank asserts that the Plaintiffs will not
suffer irreparable injury if the cases move forward.
CSX Transportation also responds in opposition to the
Plaintiffs' Motion for Stay asserting that no judicial
efficiency will be gained by a stay due to the consolidated
nature of the Tipton case. The Defendant argues that
a stay will stall the litigation, while hindering further
resolution efforts. Finally, Defendant CSX Transportation
asserts that the Plaintiffs have not met their burden for
proving a stay is appropriate.
well-established that a court may exercise its
“inherent [power] to control the disposition of the
cases on its docket.” Proctor & Gamble Co. v.
Team Techs., Inc., No. 1:12-cv-552, 2013 WL 4830950, at
*1 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 10, 2013) (quoting Landis v. North
American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)) (brackets in
Proctor & Gamble). Further, the “burden is
on the party seeking the stay to show that there is pressing
need for delay, and that neither the other party nor the
public will suffer harm from entry of the order [staying the
case].” Ohio Envtl. Council v. U.S. Dist.
Court, 545 F.2d 393, 396 (6th Cir. 1977). The Sixth
Circuit has explained:
A district court has discretion to determine whether a stay
is necessary to avoid piecemeal, duplicative litigation and
potentially conflicting results. In exercising this
discretion, district courts are to be accorded wide latitude.
. . .
While no precise test has developed to guide district courts
in deciding whether to grant requested stays, courts have
noted a number of relevant considerations. The most important
consideration is the balance of hardships; the moving party
has the burden of proving that it will suffer irreparable
injury if the case moves forward, and that the non-moving
party will not be injured by a stay. The district court must
also consider whether granting the stay will further the
interest in economical use of judicial time and resources.
Relevant to this consideration is the question of whether a