United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO
THELTON E. HENDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to stay
all proceedings in this action pending a decision by the
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on whether to
consolidate this action with other actions. Having carefully
considered the parties' written arguments, the Court
finds this matter suitable for resolution without oral
argument. See Civ. L.R. 7-1(b). For the reasons
stated below, the Court hereby GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN
PART Defendant's motion.
above-captioned matter concerns Plaintiffs' putative
class action against Defendant Starbucks Corporation, filed
on March 16, 2016, which generally alleges that Starbucks
uniformly underfills its lattes, and misrepresents to its
customers the amount of latte that will be in its various
sized cups. See Compl. (Docket No. 1). On May 26,
2016, Defendant moved the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict
Litigation (the "Panel") to coordinate or
consolidate this case with three others currently pending in
federal court, and to transfer the cases to the Western
District of Washington. Mot. at 2 (Docket No. 25). The Panel
set the matter for oral argument on July 28, 2016. This
matter has an Initial Case Management Conference
("CMC") scheduled for July 11, 2016 before this
Court. Prior to the CMC, the parties will have participated
in the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f) conference and
provided initial disclosures.
Manual for Complex Litigation
("MCL") specifically cautions that where,
as here, a motion for transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 is
pending, "[t]he transferor court should not
automatically stay discovery." MCL 4th §
20.131; see also Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980
F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997). However, a district
court has the inherent power to stay proceedings in order to
control its docket, and in the interest of judicial
efficiency. Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254
(1936). Thus, courts will "frequently grant stays
pending a decision by [the Panel]" to serve the
interests of judicial economy. Good v. Prudential Ins.
Co. of Am., 5 F.Supp.2d 804, 809 (N.D. Cal. 1998). There
are three factors for a court to consider when deciding
whether to grant a stay pending the Panel's decision: (1)
potential prejudice to the non-moving party; (2) hardship and
inequity to the moving party absent a stay; and (3) judicial
resources that would be saved by avoiding duplicative
litigation. Rivers, 980 F.Supp. at 1360.
Plaintiffs' Potential Prejudice is Minimal.
Court agrees with Plaintiffs that a stay will thwart
Plaintiffs' ability to commence and advance discovery.
See Opp'n at 4. This would be unfair to
Plaintiffs, as it would allow Defendant to unilaterally halt
a proceeding rightfully initiated by Plaintiffs. There is no
automatic stay pending a decision from the Panel; therefore,
it is correct to assume that courts (and the Panel)
anticipate that plaintiffs should generally be permitted to
proceed with discovery while the Panel considers a pending
motion to consolidate, unless other circumstances are
the Court also agrees with Defendant that Plaintiffs have not
specifically identified the reasons why a brief stay would be
unduly prejudicial. Reply at 5-6. At this point, discovery
has already commenced; thus, any prejudice resulting from a
delay in the commencement of discovery would be minimal.
See Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Continue
Initial CMC (Docket No. 30). For these reasons, the Court
finds that this factor alone does not warrant denial of a
Defendant's Perceived Hardship/Inequity is Minimal.
is a slight potential of hardship to Defendant insofar as it
would be forced to engage in duplicative litigation absent a
stay. See, e.g., Cooper v. Siddighi, No.
13-CV-0345-JGB, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188416, at *8 (CD. Cal.
May 8, 2013). However, considering the early stage of this
litigation, the Court finds any such hardship to be minimal.
The only duplication in the near future appears to be
discovery-related, and with some foresight and organization,
Defendant will not have to expend too many resources in
turning over documents or responding to requests for
admissions and interrogatories in the multiple actions.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Defendant will not endure
undue hardship absent a stay.
Court notes, however, that there is a higher potential for
hardship to Defendant when it comes to duplicative
depositions. The Court finds that it would be unduly
prejudicial for Defendant to have to schedule and defend
depositions of presumably the same Starbucks employees and
other witnesses for four different cases during the pendency
of the motion before the Panel. For this reason, the Court
GRANTS Defendant's motion as to depositions, but not as
to written discovery.
Few Judicial Resources Would Be Conserved by Granting a Stay.
generally stay proceedings when a stay would avoid the
needless duplication of the Court's resources and
potential inconsistent rulings. See Rivers, 980
F.Supp. at 1360-61. Here, the Court finds that the interests
of judicial economy do not favor a stay. Without reaching the
merits of the motion pending before the Panel,  the Court
finds that while there may be similar questions of fact in