Beydoun v. HOLDER JR et al
OPINION and ORDER Granting Defendants' 6 MOTION to Stay - Signed by District Judge Judith E. Levy. (FMos)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 14-cv-13812
Hon. Judith E. Levy
Eric Holder, Jr., et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’
MOTION TO STAY 
Plaintiff Nasser Beydoun brought this class action complaint
against defendants Eric Holder, Jr., James B. Comey, and Christopher
M. Piehota (collectively “defendants”) alleging unlawful agency action
and violations of the Fifth Amendment due process clause for failure to
provide post-deprivation notice and hearing.
These allegations stem
from (1) the plaintiff’s placement on the Selectee List, which results in
additional screening by the Transportation Security Administration
(“TSA”) prior to boarding an airplane, and (2) the defendants’ alleged
failure to provide a constitutionally adequate remedy to challenge
plaintiff’s inclusion on the Selectee List. (Dkt. 1).
Before the Court is defendants’ motion to stay the case pending
the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Mokdad v. Holder, Case No. 14-1094, a
case defendants argue will provide controlling precedent regarding the
Court’s subject matter jurisdiction to consider claims like those in this
case. Defendants further move the Court to permit their answer or
response to this complaint to be filed thirty days after the Sixth Circuit
issues its decision in Mokdad. Plaintiff opposes the motion arguing that
the matter before the Sixth Circuit is distinguishable from this case.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendants’
motion to stay and orders that defendants’ answer or response to the
complaint be filed within thirty days of the Sixth Circuit’s ruling in
The TSA has established Security Directives with respect to two
groups of people it has determined to pose a potential risk to aviation
safety. The first group is made up of individuals who are placed on a
No Fly List and are entirely prohibited from flying. The second group
includes those placed on the Selectee List who must undergo additional
screening before they are allowed to fly. Both of these lists are subsets
of the Terrorist Screening Database (“TSDB”). (Dkt. 6-4).
For those individuals who believe they have been wrongly placed
on either of these lists, Congress developed the Department of
Homeland Security Traveler Inquiry Program (“DHS TRIP”), which it
describes as “a timely and fair redress process for individuals who
believe they were delayed or prohibited from boarding a commercial
aircraft because they were wrongly identified as a threat.” 49 U.S.C.
§44926. Once an inquiry is made by an individual regarding his or her
placement on either of the lists, the “TSA, in coordination with the TSC
and other appropriate federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies,
if necessary, will review all the documentation and information
requested from the individual, correct any erroneous information, and
provide the individual with a timely written response.” 49 C.F.R. §
1560.205(d). Upon completion of the review, DHS TRIP sends a final
In Mokdad, the plaintiff challenged his alleged placement on the
No Fly List as well as the constitutionality of DHS TRIP. Defendants
moved to dismiss, arguing that the Sixth Circuit had original
jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claims.
The relevant portion of 49 U.S.C. § 46110 states:
[A] person disclosing a substantial interest in an order
issued by the Secretary of Transportation (or the Under
Secretary of Transportation for Security with respect to
security duties and powers designated to be carried out by
the Under Secretary or the Administrator of the Federal
Aviation Administration with respect to aviation duties and
powers designated to be carried out by the Administrator) in
whole or in part under this part, part B, or subsection (l) or
(s) of section 114 may apply for review of the order by filing a
petition for review in the United States Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit or in the court of appeals of
the United States for the circuit in which the person resides
or has its principal place of business.
When the petition is sent to the Secretary, Under Secretary,
or Administrator, the court [of appeals] has exclusive
jurisdiction to affirm, amend, modify, or set aside any part of
the order and may order the Secretary, Under Secretary, or
Administrator to conduct further proceedings…the court
may grant interim relief by staying the order or taking other
appropriate action when good cause for its action exists.
49 U.S.C. § 46110 (emphasis added).
The District Court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds,
finding that, since any claim related to the No Fly list required review
of statutory mandates imposed upon the TSA, the law granted exclusive
jurisdiction of the claim with the courts of appeals. See Dkt. 6-4; 49
U.S.C. § 46110.
The question before the Sixth Circuit in Mokdad is whether 49
U.S.C. § 46110, a statute vesting the courts of appeals with exclusive
jurisdiction to consider challenges of final orders of the TSA, governs
challenges to an alleged denial of boarding an airplane as well as
challenges to the administrative redress process afforded by DHS TRIP.
The Sixth Circuit heard oral argument on this question on October 8,
2014. (Dkt. 6 at 9).
In this case, plaintiff alleges due process violations and unlawful
agency action due to his placement on the Selectee List, and defendants’
failure to provide a constitutionally adequate remedy to challenge his
inclusion on that list. (Dkt. 1). Beydoun argues that his placement on
the Selectee List has resulted in excessive delays in his travel. (Id.) He
further alleges that he made three redress inquiries with DHS TRIP.
In response to plaintiff’s most recent inquiry, the DHS issued a final
agency decision recommending that he provide his redress number
when reserving airline tickets and when travelling to help avoid future
delays. (Dkt. 6-3).
Standard of Review
A district court may stay a case in order to allow a higher court in
a separate case to settle issues of law that have bearing on the matter
to be stayed. See Marshel v. AFW Fabric Corp., 552 F.2d 471, 472 (2d
Cir. 1977); Bechtel Corp. v. Local 215, Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am.,
544 F.2d 1207, 1215 (3d Cir. 1976). See also LaSala v. Needham & Co.,
Inc., 399 F. Supp.2d 421, 427 n.39 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (noting that a stay is
appropriate “where a higher court is close to settling an issue of law
bearing on the action”).
To determine whether a stay is warranted, a court must “weigh
competing interests and maintain an even balance.” Landis v. North
Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936). The party seeking a stay “must
make out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go
forward if there is even a fair possibility that the stay [requested] will
work damage to some one else.” Id. at 255. “Especially in cases of
extraordinary public moment, the [plaintiff] may be required to submit
to delay not immoderate in extent and not oppressive in its
consequences if the public welfare or convenience will thereby be
promoted.” Landis, 299 U.S. at 256.
In making its determination, the Court weighs: “ the
potentiality of another case having a dispositive effect on the case to be
stayed,  the judicial economy to be saved by waiting on a dispositive
decision,  the public welfare, and  the hardship/prejudice to the
party opposing the stay, given its duration.” Michael v. Ghee, 325 F.
Supp. 2d 829, 831 (N.D. Ohio 2004) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 255).
A stay is warranted in this matter. The potentially dispositive
impact of Mokdad, combined with the efficiency of waiting for the Sixth
Circuit’s ruling, weighs heavily in favor of granting the stay.
Plaintiff contends that the allegations before the Court are
sufficiently distinguishable from those in Mokdad. He argues that the
Selectee List, unlike the No Fly List, also affects a traveler dealing with
travel where the TSA is not involved, such as land border crossings,
which are administered by the TSC and the FBI. Plaintiff argues that
his complaint should be construed as a broader constitutional challenge
to the administration of the Selectee List and the TSDB, rather than a
narrow challenge to a final decision of the TSA.
Construing plaintiff’s complaint in the broadest light possible, it is
indisputable that a significant portion of his complaint challenges TSA
final orders as well as claims inextricably intertwined with those
orders. Plaintiff, for example, challenges his placement on the Selectee
List and the failure to provide adequate post-deprivation notice and
hearing, which are both arguably related to TSA final orders, as the
TSA is responsible for passenger prescreening and administers the
redress process for travelers complaining of delayed boarding. See 49
performance of the passenger prescreening function of comparing
passenger information to the automatic selectee list” and “shall
establish a procedure to enable airline passengers, who are delayed…,
to appeal such determination…”); 49 C.F.R. § 1560.105(b)(2) &
Even if the Court were to adopt the argument that
administration of the Selectee List extends beyond TSA’s control, it is
indisputable that the TSA is responsible for the redress process.
Plaintiff does not provide authority to counter this view. See 49 U.S.C.
§ 46110; Dkt 7. Indeed, the redress process plaintiff engaged in
concluded with a letter from DHS TRIP, a final order subject to 49
U.S.C. § 46110.
If the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Mokdad fails to be dispositive of
all issues in this case, its ruling is still likely to significantly simplify
this case. See Landis, 299 U.S. 248. Indeed, the Mokdad decision is
likely to have precedential effect on questions of subject matter
jurisdiction and to resolve at least some of the claims before the Court.
This weighs in favor of granting a stay. See Ghee, 325 F.Supp.2d at
831; Bandit Indus., Inc. v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mich., 2013 WL
5651444, at *1-2 (E.D. Mich. 2013).
Furthermore, the alleged harm to the public welfare and alleged
prejudice to plaintiff do not outweigh the benefits of a stay. In light of
the fact that the Sixth Circuit held oral argument on Mokdad in
October 2014, the delay caused by granting the stay should not be
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Defendants’ Motion for Stay is GRANTED.
Defendants shall have thirty days to answer or respond to
plaintiff’s complaint following the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Mokdad.
Dated: February 13, 2015
Ann Arbor, Michigan
s/Judith E. Levy
JUDITH E. LEVY
United States District Judge
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that the foregoing document was served
upon counsel of record and any unrepresented parties via the Court’s
ECF System to their respective email or First Class U.S. mail addresses
disclosed on the Notice of Electronic Filing on February 13, 2015.
s/Felicia M. Moses
FELICIA M. MOSES
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