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Murphy Co. v. Trump

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Medford Division

February 14, 2018

MURPHY COMPANY, an Oregon Corporation; and MURPHY TIMBER INVESTMENTS, LLC, an Oregon limited liability company, Plaintiffs,
DONALD J. TRUMP, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America; RYAN ZINKE, in his official capacity as Secretary of Interior; U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR; and U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, Defendants, SODA MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS COUNCIL, KLAMATH-SISKIYOU WILDLANDS CENTER, OREGON WILD, and WILDERNESS SOCIETY, Intervenor-Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants move to continue the stay in this matter, originally issued in June 2017 and twice extended, in order to allow for Presidential action on the Secretary of the Interior's review and recommendations of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument's designation under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Intervenor-Defendants object to the stay request. For the reasons below, the Court declines to continue the stay, and Plaintiffs' and Federal Defendants' motion (#29) is DENIED.


         Plaintiffs filed this action on February 17, 2017. Plaintiffs' action challenges Presidential Proclamation No. 9564, 82 Fed. Reg. 6, 145 (Jan. 12, 2017). Proclamation No. 9564 expanded the boundaries of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (the "Monument") by approximately 48, 000 acres and was issued pursuant to then-President Barack Obama's authority under the Antiquities Act. Over 80 percent of the expanded acreage was, prior to the expansion, Oregon and California Lands ("O&C" Lands). Plaintiffs contend the Proclamation unlawfully changed its designation and accompanying statutory purpose from "permanent timber production to the park-like preservation status of a national monument." Compl., at 2, ¶ 2 [CM/ECF No. 1.]. Plaintiffs argue this designation violated the O&C Act and exceeded the scope of the President's authority under the Antiquities Act.

         After this case was filed, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to review the designation of several national monuments, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Consequently, on June 13, 2017, in order to provide the Secretary with the opportunity to complete the review process, the parties stipulated to stay these proceedings until thirty days after the Secretary presented his final report to the President. [CM/ECF No. 22.]. The Court granted this request and directed the parties to file a joint status report when the stay was slated to end.

         On September 27, 2017, the parties submitted their first joint status report, and, in so doing, also requested that the Court continue the stay because the Secretary's recommendations, which endorsed reducing the size of the Monument, had been transferred to, and were being considered by, the President. First Joint Status Report [CM/ECF No. 25.]. "Because Presidential action based on the recommendations could ultimately affect the existing monument designation and its size in ways that could affect this litigation, " First Joint Status Report, at 2, the Court continued the stay through November 27, 2017.

         On November 28, 2017, the parties again sought to defer the proceedings because the Secretary's recommendations remained under the President's consideration. Second Joint Status Report [CM/ECF No. 27.]. The Court granted this request and stayed the case through January 31, 2018.

         Finally, on February 2, 2018, the parties filed a third joint status report, again notifying the Court that the Secretary's recommendations were under consideration by the President but no Presidential action has been taken. Third Joint Status Report [CM/ECF No. 29.]. Because no Presidential action has been taken, Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants ask that the Court continue the stay through March 31, 2018, in order "to afford additional time for Presidential review and consideration of the Secretary of Interior's recommendations[.]" Third Joint Status Report, at 2. Intervenor-Defendants oppose a further stay. First, they note that the stay has been lifted in two separate cases also challenging the Monument's expansion.[1] Thus, Intervenor-Defendants argue it would be most efficient for this case to proceed as well. Second, Intervenor-Defendants maintain that Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants "have not met their burden to justify a further stay of the litigation, " and note that "[i]t has now been almost one year since [Plaintiffs] filed [their] complaint in this case." Intervenor-Defs.' Mem. in Opp'n to Stay, at 1-2 [CM/ECF No. 31.].

         By contrast, Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants argue that the Court should continue the stay, as doing so is in the Court's interest and would promote the orderly administration of justice. Specifically, they argue that staying this matter until the President acts on the Secretary's recommendations would promote the efficient allocation of judicial and party resources because the President's ultimate decision could moot the very issue Plaintiffs challenge in this action. Furthermore, Plaintiffs and Federal Defendants maintain that a further stay would not harm Intervenor-Defendants; indeed, they argue, "maintaining the status quo ... is, after all, the fundamental goal of [Intervenor-Defendants'] participation in this case." Pis.' Mem. in Supp. of Stay, at 4 [CM/ECF No. 32.].


         "A district court has inherent power to control the disposition of the causes on its docket in a manner which will promote economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants." CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962). As such, "[a] district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings." Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). In utilizing this discretion, however, the district court must weigh a No. of factors, including any potential damage that may result from granting a stay, "the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward, and the orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay." CMAX, 300 F.2d at 268 (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55). 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 for which he prays will work damage to some one else." Lamfo, 299U.S. at255.


         On the facts of this case, the Court finds that the balance of factors weighs against continuing the stay. First, the Court finds Federal Defendants would suffer little to no inequity or hardship. As mentioned, the stay in two separate lawsuits, which, as here, challenge the Monument expansion, has been lifted and those cases are moving forward. Therefore, in both cases, Am. Forest Res. Council v. United States of America, 1:17-cv-00441-RJL (D.D.C. Dec. 1, 2017), and Assoc, of O&C Ctys. v. Trump, 1:17-cv-00280-RJL (D.D.C. Feb. 13, 2017) (collectively, the "District of Columbia Cases"), Federal Defendants are required to file their responsive pleadings by March 15, 2018, and dispositive motion briefing in both cases is set to finish on or before September 13, 2018.

         The issue in all three cases is a legal one: whether Presidential Proclamation No. 9564, which expanded the Monument, violates the O&C Act and the Antiquities Act. Accordingly, far from suffering inequity or hardship if this case were to move forward, Federal Defendants would merely be required to defend against the same allegations as are being made in those two identical cases. Simply "being required to defend a suit, without more, does not constitute a clear case of hardship or inequity." Lockyer, 398 F.3d at 1112 (internal quotation and citation omitted). This is all the ...

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