United States District Court, E.D. California
10, 2017, this court found Duarte violated the Clean Water
Act (CWA) by discharging pollutants into “waters of the
United States” without a permit or statutory exemption.
Order at 24-32, ECF No. 195. Finding the CWA to be a strict
liability statute, the court concluded a bench trial was
needed to determine the issue of injunctive relief and civil
penalties. ECF No. 268; see also 33 U.S.C. §
1319(b) (providing for injunctive relief), 33 U.S.C. §
1319(d) (providing for civil penalties).
case is now before the court on plaintiffs Duarte Nursery,
Inc.'s and John Duarte's (collectively
“Duarte”) motion to stay proceedings. Mot., ECF
No. 269. Defendant United States opposes. Opp'n, ECF No.
272. At hearing on Duarte's motion, Anthony Francois
appeared for Duarte, and Gregory Broderick and John Do
appeared for the United States, ECF No. 275. For
reasons explained below, Duarte's motion is
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed the operative second amended complaint on September 3,
2015. ECF No. 90. The complaint alleges the Army Corps
violated Duarte's Fifth Amendment right to due process
and First Amendment right against retaliatory prosecution.
See generally id. The United States'
counterclaim alleges violation of § 301(a) of the CWA,
33 U.S.C. § 1311(a). ECF No. 28 at 16. In support of its
counterclaim, the United States alleges Duarte discharged
pollutants into “waters of the United States”
without authorization. Id. The United States
requests injunctive relief and civil penalties. Id.
10, 2016, this court granted the United States' motion
for summary judgment, concluding that, under Justice
Kennedy's “significant nexus” test
articulated in his concurrence in Rapanos v. United
States, 547 U.S. 715, 767 (2006), Duarte violated the
CWA and should be held liable. Order at 27, 29-31, 35. The
question now remaining before the court is the scope of
injunctive relief and the amount of civil penalties. See
Id. at 24 (concluding the CWA is a “strict
liability” statute (citing Waterkeepers N. Cal. v.
Ag. Indus. Mfg., Inc., No. 00- 1967, 2005 WL 2001037, at
*13 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2005)). A bench trial on remedies is
being set for August 2017.
April 18, 2017, Duarte filed a motion to stay this case
pending the resolution of a case currently before the Ninth
Circuit, United States v. Robertson, No. 16-30178
(9th Cir. filed Aug. 1, 2016). Mot. Duarte anticipates
Robertson will decide whether a prior Ninth Circuit
case, United States v. Davis, 825 F.3d 1014, 1020
(9th Cir. 2016), had the effect of overturning N. Cal.
River Watch v. City of Healdsburg, 496 F.3d 993, 999
(9th Cir. 2007), which held that Justice Kennedy's
concurrence in the case of Rapanos, 547 U.S. at 767,
provides the test for determining CWA jurisdiction. The
United States opposes a stay. Opp'n. Duarte replied.
Reply, ECF No. 273.
district court has inherent power to control the disposition
of the cases on its docket in a manner to 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). The trial court may, “with propriety, find 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 that bear upon the
case.” Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal.,
Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (9th Cir. 1979). This rule
applies whether the separate proceedings are “judicial,
administrative or arbitral in character, and does not require
that the issues in such proceedings necessarily control of
the action before the court.” Id.
court's inherent power is discretionary. CMAX,
300 F.2d at 268. In determining whether a stay is warranted,
the court must weigh the competing interests resulting from
granting or declining a motion to stay. Id. Among
the competing interests are (1) the possible damage that may
result from the granting of a stay, (2) the hardship or
inequity a party may suffer in being required to go forward,
and (3) the orderly course of justice measured in terms of
the simplifying or complicating issues, proof, and questions
of law expected to result from a stay. Id. at 268;
Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1110 (9th
Cir. 2005). Finally, “[t]he party requesting a stay
bears the burden of showing that the circumstances justify an
exercise of that discretion.” Nken v. Holder,
556 U.S. 418, 433-34 (2009) (citing Clinton v.
Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997); Landis v. N. Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 255 (1936)). The court weighs the
competing interests in this case below.
the court must balance the “possible damage which may
result from the granting of a stay, ” with “the
hardship or inequity which may [result] in being required to
go forward.” CMAX, 300 F.2d at 268. If there
is “even a fair possibility that the stay for which
[moving party] prays will work damage to someone else,
” then the moving party must show “a clear case
of hardship or inequity in being required to go
forward.” Landis, 299 U.S. at 255.
court must also consider “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.
In reviewing this factor, the court is mindful of the
imperative that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure be
“construed, administered, and employed by the court and
the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination of every action and proceeding.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 1; see also Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55,
57 (a court has the inherent power “to control the
disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time
and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants”
and “[h]ow this can best be done calls for the exercise
of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and
maintain an even balance”).
Duarte contends a stay is warranted because
Robertson is expected to be heard by the Ninth
Circuit in the next four to five months. Mot. at 7. Duarte
also contends if its case proceeds here, it will face
unnecessary expenditures in litigating at trial, if the
Circuit determines the question of CWA liability is not
governed by the Rapanos test as this court
previously has determined. Id. at 9. The United
States counters that a decision in Robertson may not
issue for more than 14 months, and ongoing ...