Covert et al v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. et al

Filing 26


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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 SAN JOSE DIVISION 6 7 BRANDON COVERT, et al., Case No. 16-cv-06041-BLF Plaintiffs, 8 v. 9 SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., et al., 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Defendants. ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC.’S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY STAY OF PROCEEDINGS [Re: ECF 24] 12 13 14 Having reviewed the administrative motion for a temporary stay of proceedings filed by 15 Defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (“SEA”), ECF 24, and the opposition thereto filed 16 by Plaintiffs, ECF 25, the Court DENIES the motion for the reasons discussed below. 17 Defendant SEA requests that the Court exercise its inherent power to stay the present case, 18 Covert, “temporarily” for some indeterminate period of time. The bases articulated for the 19 requested stay are that: (1) Defendant Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (“SEC”), a Korean 20 company, has not yet been served; (2) Plaintiffs will not permit Defendant SEA to examine the 21 smartphone at issue or conduct an independent medical evaluation of Plaintiffs until Defendant 22 SEC appears; and (3) a stay of Covert is appropriate because a related action, Martin v. Samsung 23 Electronics America, Inc., 16-cv-06391-BLF, has been stayed. Presumably, then, Defendant SEA 24 requests that Covert be stayed pending appearance by Defendant SEC and resolution of the 25 underlying MDL petition that gave rise to the stay in Martin. 26 As an initial matter, Plaintiffs correctly point out that an administrative motion for relief 27 under Civil Local Rule 7-11 is not an appropriate vehicle for Defendant SEA’s request for stay. 28 Civil Local Rule 7-11 is intended to provide a mechanism by which a party may present to the 1 Court “miscellaneous administrative matters, not otherwise governed by a federal statute, Federal 2 or local rule or standing order of the assigned judge.” Civ. L.R. 7-11. Examples “would include 3 matters such as motions to exceed otherwise applicable page limitations or motions to file 4 documents under seal.” Id. A motion to stay litigation is a substantive motion that properly 5 should be filed as a noticed motion under Civil Local Rule 7-2. The Court did grant an administrative motion for a stay of litigation in Martin because the 7 motion was unopposed and little purpose would have been served by requiring that the motion be 8 re-filed as a noticed motion. See Order Granting Defendants’ Administrative Motion for a 9 Temporary Stay of Proceedings Pending Decision on MDL Petition, ECF 27 in Case No. 16-cv- 10 06391-BLF. Because that ruling may have misled Defendant SEA as to the propriety of bringing 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 6 the present motion for stay under Civil Local Rule 7-11, the Court will address the motion on the 12 merits. 13 “[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to 14 control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for 15 counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). In determining 16 whether to grant a stay, “the competing interests which will be affected by the granting or refusal 17 to grant a stay must be weighed.” CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962). 18 “Among these competing interests are the possible damage which may result from the granting of 19 a stay, the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward, and the 20 orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and 21 questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay.” Id. (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 22 254-55). 23 With respect to the first factor, possible damage if the stay is granted, Plaintiffs in Covert 24 have expressed a strong preference for going forward on their individual claims and avoiding 25 delays that would be caused by requiring their case to conform to the inevitably longer timetable 26 of the broader class action, Martin. Plaintiffs point out that Defendant SEA has brought the 27 present motion for stay on the eve of the Case Management Conference scheduled for February 28 23, 2017, that Plaintiffs already have made their initial disclosures, and that Defendant SEA did 2 1 not notify Plaintiffs at the parties’ recent meet and confer conference that Defendant SEA would 2 be seeking a stay. Plaintiffs assert that Defendant SEA’s conduct is particularly egregious because 3 Defendant SEA unsuccessfully sought to sweep Covert within the scope of Defendant SEA’s prior 4 administrative motion for stay in Martin and thus could have brought the present motion for stay 5 in a much timelier manner. Given all of these circumstances, the Court agrees with Plaintiffs that 6 imposition of a stay would be unfair and prejudicial to Plaintiffs, and thus that the first factor 7 weighs against a stay. 8 9 With respect to the second factor, hardship to Defendant SEA if required to go forward, the only prejudice Defendant SEA articulates is its assertion that it will be “hamstrung” by Plaintiffs’ refusal to permit examination of the smartphone or an independent medical evaluation until 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Defendant SEC appears. However, if Plaintiffs refuse to comply with discovery requests, 12 Defendant SEA may seek relief by appropriate motion before Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd. 13 Accordingly, the second factor is neutral or weighs slightly against a stay. 14 Finally, with respect to the third factor, Defendant SEA asserts that staying Covert so that 15 it may be managed in conjunction with Martin will promote efficiency. While it did relate Covert 16 and Martin, this Court does not ordinarily manage related cases on the same timetable. At this 17 point in the litigation, the Court perceives no reason why Covert should be delayed so that it may 18 be managed with Martin. The Court therefore concludes that the third factor is neutral or weighs 19 slightly against a stay. 20 Accordingly, after consideration of the parties’ briefing on the merits and the Landis 21 factors, the Court in the exercise of its discretion DENIES Defendant SEA’s administrative 22 motion for a temporary stay. The Case Management Conference scheduled for February 23, 2017 23 at 11:00 a.m. remains on calendar. The Court’s ruling is without prejudice to a future motion to 24 coordinate Covert and Martin should developments in the cases make such a motion appropriate. 25 26 27 28 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: February 22, 2017 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 3

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