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City of Albany v. CH2M Hill, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division

October 9, 2018

CITY OF ALBANY, Plaintiff,
v.
CH2M HILL, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          ANN AIKEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff City of Albany ("the City") brought suit against defendant CH2M Hill, Inc. ("CH2M") in Linn County Circuit Court alleging claims for breach of contract, professional negligence, attorney fees, and reckless misrepresentation, Defendant removed this case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, (doc. 1) Plaintiff successfully moved to remand the case back to state court based on the exclusive language of the venue selection clause in the agreements between the parties, (doc. 11) Defendant now seeks to stay the remand for the pendency of it's appeal in the Ninth Circuit. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's Motion for Stay (doc. 14) is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         The background of this case has been covered extensively in the previous order. In summary, the substance of the lawsuit concerns an engineering contract between plaintiff, City of Albany ("the City"), and defendant, CH2M Hill, Inc. ("CH2M") to oversee the construction of two infrastructure projects: a new wastewater treatment plant and a 30-acre wetland. The City initially filed this lawsuit in Linn County, Oregon, pursuant to a forum selection clause in the contracts at issue. Defendant removed the action to federal court in the District of Oregon, Eugene Division, asserting diversity jurisdiction (doc 1).[1]

         The parties made two agreements, the first on May 15, 2005, and the second on October 12, 2006. Both agreements contained identical venue selection clauses, as follows: "The laws of Oregon shall govern the validity of this agreement, its interpretation and performance, and other claims related to it. Venue for litigation shall be in Linn County, Oregon."[2] Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand (doc. 5) arguing the venue selection clause in the two agreements mandates Oregon Circuit Court in Linn County as proper venue for their dispute.

         I agreed, and granted the remand motion on March 30, 2018. (doc. 11) I also ordered a temporary stay so that this formal motion could be brought and briefed, Defendant argues that this Court should stay that remand until the defendant's appeal has proceeded in the Ninth Circuit, because of the risk of duplicative litigation. Plaintiff contends that the stay is unnecessary, as success on the merits is unlikely and the City would prefer a speedy resolution of the matter in light of its' mounting costs.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The granting of a stay is entirely at the discretion of the Court. "A stay is not a matter of right, even if irreparable injury might otherwise result ... It is instead an exercise of judicial discretion, and the propriety of its issue is dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case." Washington v. Trump, 847 F.3d 1151, 1164 (9th Cir. 2017) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citations omitted) (alterations normalized). "The standard for evaluating an injunction pending appeal is similar to that employed by district courts in deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction." Feldman v. Arizona Secretary of State's Office, 843 F.3d 366, 367 (9th Cir, 2016) (en banc). Court's consider four factors in determining whether to grant a stay pending appeal:

(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.

Latta v. Otter, 771 F.3d 496, 498 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The first two factors cany more weight as "the most critical," and the latter two are addressed only when the movant offers a strong showing on the first two. Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434-35.

         While the analysis for stays and preliminary injunctions are similar, "a stay simply suspends judicial alteration of the status quo, . . . injunctive relief grants judicial intervention that has been withheld by lower courts." Id. at 429 (internal quotation marks omitted) (alterations normalized).

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant asserts that the interests of comity between the state and federal courts require a stay of the remand while CH2M's appeal proceeds, and that an immediate ...


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