Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. APM Terminals Tacoma LLC

Filing 23

ORDER granting 14 Defendant's Motion to Stay. Signed by Judge Benjamin H. Settle. (MGC)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA 6 7 8 9 10 PUGET SOUNDKEEPER ALLIANCE, Plaintiff, v. APM TERMINALS TACOMA, LLC, CASE NO. C17-5016 BHS ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STAY Defendant. 11 12 13 This matter comes before the Court on Defendant APM Terminals Tacoma, LLC’s 14 (“APM”) motion to stay litigation (Dkt. 14). The Court has considered the pleadings filed 15 in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby 16 grants the motion for the reasons stated herein. 17 I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY 18 On January 9, 2017, Plaintiff Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (“Soundkeeper”) filed a 19 complaint against APM seeking “a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, the imposition 20 of civil penalties, and the award of costs, including attorneys’ and expert witness fees, for 21 [APM’s] repeated and ongoing violations” of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). Dkt. 1. 22 ORDER - 1 1 On April 4, 2017, APM filed the instant motion requesting a stay of the 2 proceeding pending resolution of a related and previously filed proceeding before the 3 Washington Pollution Control Hearings Board (“PCHB”). Dkt. 14. On April 17, 2017, 4 Soundkeeper responded. Dkt. 16. On April 21, 2017, APM replied. Dkt. 19. 5 6 II. DISCUSSION A district court has the discretionary power to stay its proceedings. Lockyer v. 7 Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005). This power to stay is “incidental to 8 the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket 9 with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. N. 10 Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936); see also Dependable Highway Exp., Inc. v. 11 Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir. 2007) (“A trial court may . . . find it is 12 efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for the parties to enter a stay of an 13 action before it, pending resolution of independent proceedings which bear upon the 14 case.”). This is best accomplished by the court’s “exercise of judgment, which must 15 weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance.” Landis, 299 U.S. at 254–55. 16 When considering a motion to stay, the court weighs a series of competing 17 interests: (1) the possible damage that may result from the granting of the stay; (2) the 18 hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward; and (3) the 19 orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, 20 proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay. CMAX, Inc. v. 21 Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 254–55); see also 22 Lockyer, 398 F.3d at 1109. As the Ninth Circuit has noted, “Landis cautions that ‘if there ORDER - 2 1 is even a fair possibility that the stay . . . will work damage to someone else,’ the party 2 seeking the stay ‘must make out a clear case of hardship or inequity.’” Lockyer, 398 F.3d 3 at 1112 (quoting Landis, 299 U.S. at 255). 4 In this case, the Court concludes that a stay is warranted. APM has shown that the 5 PCHB case is relevant to the instant litigation and that its resolution may resolve key 6 issues in this case. Although Soundkeeper argues that its interests would be harmed by a 7 stay because APM would continue to illegally dump pollutants into the relevant 8 waterways during the stay, the PCHB case deals directly with APM’s permits regarding 9 the appropriate level of pollutants that APM may discharge. Thus, Soundkeeper is 10 harmed only if APM is exceeding its permitted amount of discharges, which are issues 11 before the PCHB. Finally, APM faces the hardship of unnecessary discovery and 12 litigation if this proceeding is not stayed. 13 III. ORDER 14 Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED that APM’s motion to stay litigation (Dkt. 14) is 15 GRANTED. Either party shall move to lift the stay when the PCHB renders a decision. 16 The Clerk shall remove this matter from the active caseload and administratively close it. 17 Dated this 16th day of May, 2017. 18 19 A BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge 20 21 22 ORDER - 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?