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J.D. v. West Linn-Wilsonville School District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 14, 2013

J.D. and M.D., Plaintiffs,
v.
WEST LINN-WILSONVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

Diane Wiscarson, WISCARSON LAW, A Professional Corporation, Portland, Oregon, Attorney for Plaintiffs

Richard G. Cohn-Lee Andrea L. Hungerford THE HUNGERFORD LAW FIRM Oregon City, Oregon, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANN AIKEN, Chief District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Stay filed by defendant West Linn-Wilsonville School District. For the reasons that follow, this Court GRANTS defendant's Motion.

Background

On August 15, 2011, plaintiffs filed a Due Process Complaint with the Oregon Department of Education against defendant concerning the education of their minor child. After an administrative hearing, Administrative Law Judge Ken Betterton ("ALJ") issued a final order finding that defendant had violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") in certain respects.

On December 31, 2012, defendant filed an appeal of the ALJ's decision, which is currently pending before Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart. West Linn-Wilsonville School District v. Student, Case No. 3:12-cv-02364-ST. On the same day, plaintiffs filed the fee petition at issue in this case, seeking recovery of attorneys' fees and costs stemming from the administrative proceeding and the ALJ's decision currently on appeal.

On March 1, 2013, defendant filed a Motion to Stay proceedings in this case pending the outcome of the appeal proceeding before Magistrate Judge Stewart.

Standards

This Court "possesses the inherent power to control its own docket and calendar." Mediterranean Enter., Inc. v. Ssangyong Corp. , 708 F.2d 1458, 1465 (9th Cir. 1983) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co. , 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936)). A trial court may exercise its discretion by finding it is "efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for the parties to enter a stay of an action before it, pending resolution of independent proceedings which bear upon the case." Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal., Ltd. , 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (9th Cir. 1979) (citing Kerotest Mfg. Co. v. C-O-Two Fire Equipment Co. , 342 U.S. 180 (1952)).

The Ninth Circuit has articulated three factors that must be weighed when considering whether to grant a stay: 1) the possible damage which may result from granting the stay; 2) the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer if required to go forward; and 3) whether the stay would further the "the orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law" which could result from a stay. CMAX, Inc. v. Hall , 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962).

Discussion

Defendant contends that this fee petition matter should be stayed pending resolution of the substantive issues underlying its appeal. Defendant asserts that all three factors outlined in CMAX weigh in favor of granting the stay, arguing that: 1) a stay would cause a delay of a matter of months, resulting in minimal damage to plaintiffs; 2) requiring the parties to go forward would cause confusion and duplication of efforts by the parties and would significantly increase the time and expense of motions and related proceedings; and 3) a stay would greatly simplify and streamline the proceedings for both the Court and the parties.

Plaintiffs oppose defendant's motion, arguing that all three factors weigh against granting the stay. Plaintiffs contend that: 1) resolution of defendant's appeal could take months, if not years, which would cause significant delay in the payment of attorney fees and undue damage to plaintiffs; 2) requiring the parties to go forward would cause negligible hardship because there is no risk of duplicative litigation and any hardship on defendant in seeking reimbursement of fees would be minimal; and 3) a stay would not serve to meaningfully simplify ...


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