United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM & ORDER RE: MOTION TO STAY PENDING
RESOLUTION OF APPEAL
WILLIAM B. SHUBB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Scott Johnson, a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair for
mobility, initiated this action against defendant Starbucks
Corporation (“Starbucks”), seeking damages under
the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12101, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act,
California Civil Code §§ 51-53; penalties under the
Unruh Act; and attorneys' fees and costs. (Compl. (Docket
No. 1).) Plaintiff alleges that during his visits to the
Starbucks located at 4332 Watt Avenue, Sacramento,
California, he encountered two different access barriers that
denied him full and equal access to the coffee shop.
(Id. ¶¶ 21-22.) First, plaintiff alleges
that the sales counter at this location does not comply with
the relevant accessibility guidelines. (Id.
¶¶ 38-39.) He contends that there must be, but is
not, a portion of the sales counter that is no higher than 36
inches above the floor and 36 inches wide in accessible
space. (Id. ¶ 38.) Second, plaintiff argues
that the accessibility guidelines require that there be a
path of travel that is at least 36 inches clear in width.
(Id. ¶ 40.) Plaintiff alleges that this
Starbucks location does not provide such an accessible path
to its sales counter. (Id. ¶ 41.) In light of
similar cases on appeal, plaintiff moves for a discretionary
stay of all proceedings in this case. (Docket No. 22.)
court may stay proceedings incidental to its power “to
control the disposition of the causes on its docket with
economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for
litigants.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S.
248, 254 (1936). This court's decision to grant or deny
such a stay is a matter of discretion. See
Dependable Highway Exp., Inc. v. Navigators Ins.
Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir. 2007). “In
deciding whether to grant a stay the court must weigh the
competing interests of the parties, considering in
particular: (1) the possible damage that may result from the
grant of a stay, (2) the hardship or inequity a party may
suffer in being required to go forward with the case, and (3)
the orderly course of justice.” Wallis v.
Centennial Ins. Co., No. 2:08-cv-02558 WBS, 2012 WL
292982, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 31, 2012) (citing CMAX,
Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962)).
contends that this court should issue a stay because two
cases presenting similar issues are on appeal. In these two
other cases, the plaintiffs also argued that Starbucks'
counters did not comply with relevant accessibility
guidelines because they did not provide 36 inches of clear
counter space. Both district courts held, relying on a
Department of Justice (“DOJ”) amicus brief, that
Starbucks does not have to provide any amount of clear
counter space so long as the counter is a uniform height of
less than 36 inches. See Johnson v. Starbucks
Corp., No. 17-cv-02454 WHA, 2019 WL 1427435, at *2 (N.D.
Cal. Mar. 29, 2019); Kong v. Mana Investment Co.,
LLC, No. SA 18-cv-1615 DOC(DFM), at 7-8 (C.D. Cal. May
1, 2019) (Docket No. 55).Plaintiff argues that this case presents
the exact same purely legal issue: whether Starbucks must
provide 36 inches of clear counter space. Plaintiff insists
that this claim does not involve disputed issues of fact
since it is entirely based on the interpretation of the
relevant accessibility guidelines. He further maintains that
this court should stay proceedings until the Ninth Circuit
resolves this issue on appeal.
overstates the likelihood that the outcomes of these other
cases on appeal will control the resolution of this matter.
It is possible that developments could occur during discovery
that would factually distinguish the sales counter at issue
here from those at the other Starbucks locations. Further,
none of these other cases address plaintiff's separate
claim that this Starbucks location did not provide an
accessible path of travel to its sales counter.
for a decision by the Ninth Circuit would prejudice defendant
by delaying the resolution of this case, including a claim
not even affected by the pending appeals. Indeed, the parties
have not submitted any briefs on appeal, and thus
“[t]he granting of a stay at this juncture would
foreclose any possibility of the parties resolving their
dispute in a timely fashion or of the Court disposing of
issues unrelated to those on appeal.” See
Dister v. Apple-Bay E., Inc., No. 07-cv-01377 SBA,
2007 WL 4045429, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 15, 2007). Weighing
against plaintiff's request, there is no indication that
either appeal would be concluded within a reasonable time.
See Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal.,
Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 864 (9th Cir. 1979) (“A stay
should not be granted unless it appears likely the other
proceedings will be concluded within a reasonable
time.”); see also Yong v. I.N.S., 208
F.3d 1116, 1119 (9th Cir. 2000) (noting that a stay pending
the resolution of an appeal “could remain in effect for
a lengthy period of time, perhaps for years” if
litigation dragged on).
the court finds that plaintiff would suffer little hardship
from being required to proceed with this case. As explained
previously, the parties would have to conduct discovery over
plaintiff's path of travel claim regardless. Moreover,
plaintiff brought this lawsuit and therefore should be
prepared to litigate it to its conclusion. The costs
associated with prosecuting this action, without more,
“do not constitute a ‘clear case of hardship or
inequity' within the meaning of Landis.”
See Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098,
1112 (9th Cir. 2005). Separately, if plaintiff truly believes
that there is no factual dispute regarding the counter issue,
the associated discovery costs are likely to be minimal.
the court finds that the orderly course of justice does not
otherwise justify a stay. The above-mentioned appeals may
resolve one issue present in this case. “A motion to
stay, however, does not hinge only on considerations of
judicial economy.” ASUSTek Comput. Inc. v. Ricoh
Co., No. 07-cv-01942 MHP, 2007 WL 4190689, at *2 (N.D.
Cal. Nov. 21, 2007) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 255); see
also Dependable Highway, 498 F.3d at 1066
(“[C]ase management standing alone is not necessarily a
sufficient ground to stay proceedings.”). As explained
before, there is a good possibility that a stay would work
damage to Starbucks by delaying resolution of these
proceedings. Such costs outweigh any savings in
judicial economy. See Landis, 299 U.S. at 256
(reversing the lower court decision largely because the stay
would result in undue delay).
THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion to Stay Case
Pending Resolution of Appeal (Docket No. 22) be, and the same
hereby is, DENIED.
 This court reached a similar
conclusion in another case, not relying on the DOJ's
amicus brief. See Johnson v. Starbucks Corp., No.
2:16-cv-2797 WBS AC, 2019 WL 699136, at *4-*5 (E.D. Cal. Feb.
 In the alternative and for the first
time in his reply, plaintiff states that this court could
stay proceedings only as to his countertop claim. Staying
only some claims, however, would “unnecessarily prolong
the process and waste judicial resources supervising two
phases of discovery.” See ...