Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Pacific Fertility Center Litigation

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 27, 2019

IN RE PACIFIC FERTILITY CENTER LITIGATION

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR A STAY PENDING APPEAL Re: Dkt. Nos. 203, 208

          Jacqueline Scott Corley United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiffs filed this putative class action against Pacific Fertility Center (“Pacific Fertility”), Prelude Fertility, Inc. (“Prelude”), and Chart Industries (“Chart”) alleging various state law claims.[1] Pacific Fertility responded by moving to compel arbitration based on the Plaintiffs' fertility services agreement with Pacific Fertility. Prelude, Pacific Fertility MSO, and Chart filed separate joinders likewise moving to compel arbitration. After two rounds of briefing, the Court granted Pacific Fertility's motion to compel arbitration, but denied Prelude, Pacific Fertility MSO, and Chart's motions to compel arbitration, and denied the accompanying requests to stay proceedings pending arbitration. (Dkt. No. 192.) Prelude, Pacific Fertility MSO, and Chart have since appealed the denial of their motions to compel arbitration and now move for a stay pending appeal. (Dkt. Nos. 203 & 208.) Having considered the parties' briefs and having had the benefit of oral argument on June 20, 2019, the Court DENIES the motions to stay. Defendants have failed to demonstrate that their appeals raise serious legal issues or that they face probable irreparable injury absent a stay.

         BACKGROUND

         Pacific Fertility markets and sells egg and embryo cryopreservation services. (Dkt. No. 196, First Amended Consolidated Amended Class Action Complaint (“FAC”) at ¶ 1.[2]) Cryopreservation involves preservation of tissue using cooling techniques. (Id. at ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs engaged Pacific Fertility's services to cryopreserve their eggs and embryos between 2010 and 2016, and in doing so, signed Informed Consent Agreements containing arbitration clauses. (Id. at ¶ 4.) In 2017, unbeknownst to Plaintiffs, Prelude took over operation of Pacific Fertility's egg and embryo storage facilities through its operating subsidiary Pacific MSO. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Prelude operates a national network of egg and embryo long-term freezer storage facilities. (Id.) On March 4, 2018, Prelude “discovered that the liquid nitrogen levels in a tank known as ‘Tank 4' had dropped to an unsafe level for an undetermined period of time, destroying or jeopardizing the eggs and embryos stored in the tank, including those belonging to Plaintiffs.” (Id. at ¶ 6.) The at-issue tank was manufactured by Chart. (Id. at ¶ 8.)

         On March 11, 2018, Plaintiffs were notified via email of “‘a very unfortunate incident' in which the storage tank containing Plaintiffs' cryopreserved eggs and embryos ‘lost liquid nitrogen for a brief period of time,' [and] that a ‘preliminary analysis' suggested some of the eggs and embryos in the tank may have been destroyed.” (Id. at ¶ 7.) Following receipt of this email, Plaintiffs filed this putative class action, which was later consolidated with two other actions pending in the Northern District of California: Bauer, et al. v. Pacific Fertility Center, et al., No. 3:18-cv-01634 (N.D. Cal. filed Mar. 15, 2018) and A.B., et al. v. Pacific Fertility Center, et al., No. 3:18-cv-02298 (N.D. Cal. Filed April 17, 2018). (Dkt. No. 17.) These actions are now known as the In re: Pacific Fertility Litigation.

         Shortly after the actions were consolidated, Pacific Fertility filed a motion to compel arbitration in which Prelude and Chart filed separate joinders. (Dkt. Nos. 52, 56, 67.) The motions to compel arbitration first came before the Court for a hearing on November 9, 2018. At that hearing, Plaintiffs requested leave to amend their complaint to reflect information learned through discovery. The Court granted Plaintiffs' request and ordered the parties to file supplemental briefing related to the motion to compel arbitration. (Dkt. No. 133.) Plaintiff's FAC added Pacific MSO, Prelude's subsidiary, as a defendant and pleads the following 11 claims for relief: (1) negligence and/or gross negligence as to Prelude and Pacific MSO; (2) negligent failure to recall as to Chart; (3) bailment as to Prelude and Pacific MSO; (4) premise liability as to Prelude and Pacific MSO; (5) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq. as to all Defendants; (6) violation of California's Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq. as to Pacific Fertility, Prelude, and Pacific MSO; (7) fraudulent concealment as to Pacific Fertility, Prelude, and Pacific MSO; (8) strict products liability-failure to warn as to Chart; (9) strict products liability-manufacturing defect as to Chart; (10) strict products liability-design defect-consumer expectations test as to Chart; and (11) strict products liability-design defect-risk utility test as to Chart. (Dkt. No. 196.) The Court thereafter granted multiple extensions of the briefing schedule and ultimately, the motions to compel arbitration came before the Court for a second hearing on March 12, 2019. (Dkt. Nos. 149, 162, 178.)

         On March 25, 2019, the Court issued its Order granting Pacific Fertility's motion to compel arbitration, but denying Prelude, Pacific Fertility MSO, and Chart's joinders, as well as their motions to stay proceedings pending arbitration of the claims against Pacific Fertility. (Dkt. No. 192.) A month later, Prelude, Pacific Fertility MSO, and Chart filed notices of appeal and the underlying motions to stay pending appeal. (Dkt. Nos. 201, 202, 204, 208.) The following day, the parties appeared for a Further Case Management Conference where the Court set a briefing schedule on the motion to stay, and a schedule for the rest of the action with a deadline of January 16, 2020 for hearing Plaintiffs' class certification motion and a trial date of September 8, 2020. (Dkt. No. 206.) The Court also lifted the stay of discovery and is presently actively engaged in overseeing discovery.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A district court's order denying a motion to compel arbitration does not automatically result in a mandatory stay of proceedings pending appeal of that order. See Britton v. Co-op Banking Group, 916 F.2d 1405, 1412 (9th Cir. 1990). A stay pending appeal is a matter of judicial discretion, not of right. Lair v. Bullock, 697 F.3d 1200, 1203 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433 (2009)). “The party requesting a stay bears the burden of showing that the circumstances justify an exercise of [the Court's] discretion.” Nken, 556 U.S. at 433.

         In deciding whether to exercise that discretion, courts consider the following factors:

(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.

Id. (citation omitted). In weighing these factors, courts apply a “sliding scale, ” whereby the elements of the test are balanced “so that a stronger showing of one element may offset a weaker showing of another.” Leiva-Perez v. Holder, 640 F.3d 962, 964 (9th Cir. 2011). In particular, a moving party who under the first factor cannot satisfy a strong likelihood of success, must at minimum show that its appeal presents “a substantial case on the merits.” Id. at 966. Courts alternatively articulate this lesser threshold as whether “serious legal issues” are raised. See Abbassi v. INS, 143 F.3d 513, 514 (9th Cir. 1998). “[A] party satisfying this lower threshold under the first Nken factor must [also] demonstrate that the balance of hardships under the second and third factors tilts sharply in its favor.” Jimenez v. Menzies Aviation Inc, No. 15-CV-02392-WHO, 2015 WL 5591722, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 23, 2015) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Prelude and Chart advance similar arguments in favor of a stay.[3] Both insist that their appeals raise serious legal issues and that they would face irreparable harm if proceedings were ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.