United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY RE: DKT. NO.
A WESTMORE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Scott Johnson filed the instant case against Defendants
Starbucks Corporation, 440 Geary Owner, L.P., and 440 Geary
Owner GP, L.L.C., alleging violations of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”) as to the transaction
counters and entrance door hardware. (Amended Compl.
¶¶ 30, 34, Dkt. No. 13.) Pending before the Court
is Plaintiff's motion to stay the case, pending
resolution of the appeals filed in Johnson v. Blackhawk
Centercal and Kong v. Mana Investments Company,
LLC, which concern the same counter issue as in the
instant case. (Plf.'s Mot. to Stay, Dkt. No. 29.)
considered the parties' filings and the relevant legal
authority, the Court deems this matter suitable for
disposition without hearing pursuant to Civil Local Rule
7-1(b), and GRANTS the motion to stay.
is a disabled individual who alleges that between June 2017
and March 2018, he visited the Starbucks at 442 Geary Street,
San Francisco. (Amended Compl. ¶¶ 1, 27.) There,
Defendants placed merchandise and displays on the transaction
counters, narrowing the clear width of the counters to less
than 36 inches. (Amended Compl. ¶¶ 30-31.)
Plaintiff also alleges that the entrance door hardware had a
pull bar style handle that required tight grasping to
operate. (Amended Compl. ¶ 34.)
November 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant suit.
(See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) On June 6, 2019, Plaintiff
filed the instant motion to stay in light of the
Blackhawk Centercal and Mana Investment
appeals, both of which concerned the same counter issue.
(Plf.'s Memorandum ISO Mot. to Stay, Dkt. No. 29-1.) On
June 20, 2019, Defendant Starbucks filed an opposition, on
the ground that the entrance door hardware was not at issue
in the pending appeals. (Starbucks Opp'n, Dkt. No. 30.)
Defendants 440 Geary Owner, L.P. and 440 Geary Owner GP,
L.L.C. did not file an opposition. On June 27, 2019,
Plaintiff filed his reply. (Plf.'s Reply, Dkt. No. 31.)
3, 2019, the Court requested supplemental briefing from
Defendant Starbucks regarding whether the case could be
settled if the Court was to stay the case as to the
countertop issue only. (Dkt. No. 32.) On July 9, 2019,
Defendant Starbucks filed its supplemental brief, stating
that “[s]ettlement is not tenable” and
“would be futile.” (Def. Starbucks's Supp.,
Dkt. No. 33 at 2.) Defendant Starbucks also stated that it
wished to conduct discovery as to Plaintiff's standing to
bring both claims, and “would be unfairly prejudiced if
it had to wait possibly years for the counter issue to be
resolved by the Ninth Circuit . . . .” (Id. at
3.) Defendant Starbucks thus requested that the Court
“relieve the parties of their obligation to participate
in mediation and allow both claims to proceed
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court 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). Whether to stay
proceedings is entrusted to the discretion of the district
court. See Id. at 254-55. In deciding whether to
stay proceedings pending resolution of another action, a
district court must weigh various competing interests,
including the possible damage which may result from granting
a stay, the hardship a party may suffer if the case is
allowed to go forward, and “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.” Lockyer v. Mirant
Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1110 (9th Cir. 2005). “If
there is ‘even a fair possibility' of harm to the
opposing party, the moving party ‘must make out a clear
case of hardship or inequity in being required to move
forward.'” Edwards v. Oportun, Inc., 193
F.Supp.3d 1096, 1101 (N.D. Cal. 2016) (quoting
Landis, 299 U.S. at 255.) The burden is on the
movant to show that a stay is appropriate. See Clinton v.
Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997).
Court finds that a stay of this case will result in
considerable efficiency and simplification of the issues,
weighing in favor of a stay. See Bay Area Surgical Grp.,
Inc. v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., No. 13-cv-5430-EJD, 2014
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83152, at *19 (N.D. Cal. June 17, 2014)
(“Efficiency and simplification resulting from the
abatement of a federal action may weigh in favor of a
stay.”). Specifically, there is a pending appeal on the
precise issue of Defendant Starbucks's counter practices,
which would directly affect any merits determination in the
instant case. Despite the pending appeal, Defendant Starbucks
requests that the entire case go forward, which
would require discovery and motion practice -- and associated
attorney's fees and costs, as well as judicial resources
-- on an issue that would almost certainly be resolved by the
Ninth Circuit's decision. Moreover, while the instant
case concerns the additional issue of the alleged door
hardware barrier, Defendant Starbucks has made clear that
“[a]ttempting to settle Plaintiff's door hardware
claim separately from his counter claim is not feasible . . .
.” (Def. Starbucks's Supp. at 2.) Thus, while the
door hardware issue could be settled should the Court stay
the case pending a decision by the Ninth Circuit, not staying
the case would require that the door hardware issue proceed
through litigation that could otherwise be avoided.
contrast, Defendant Starbucks has not demonstrated that it
will suffer harm from a stay. In its opposition, Defendant
Starbucks only states that staying the case would
“needlessly delay the investigation and adjudication of
one of the two barriers that [Plaintiff] allegedly
encountered in this case, ” without identifying any
specific harm beyond delay. (Def. Starbucks's Opp'n
at 3.) Delay alone is typically insufficient where there is
no showing of irreparable damage or injury, such as problems
with preserving evidence. See CMAX, Inc. v. Hall,
300 F.2d 265, 268-69 (9th Cir. 1962) (finding delay in
obtaining relief insufficient to show irreparable injury or a
miscarriage of justice).
supplemental brief, Defendant Starbucks for the first time
raises its “wish to conduct discovery while
witnesses' recollection are fresh, ” including on
whether Plaintiff actually visited the stores. (Def.
Starbucks's Supp. at 3.) Defendant Starbucks, however,
does not suggest that there is a risk that evidence would be
lost as a result of a stay. Defendant Starbucks is not
prohibited from investigating the standing issue on its own,
including interviewing its own employees. Moreover, the Court
notes that Plaintiff has multiple cases against Starbucks
regarding the counter issue, and that he has moved to stay
those cases pending the Ninth Circuit appeal. Defendant
Starbucks, in turn, has agreed to stay many of those cases,
even though those cases present the same standing issue.
(E.g., Johnson v. Goodhue, No.
16-cv-724-DMR, Dkt. No. 162 (Starbucks's non-opposition
to motion to stay); Johnson v. Starbucks Corp., No.
16-6792-SK, Dkt. No. 77 (same); Johnson v. Starbucks
Corp., No. 18-5170-SK, Dkt. No. 31 (joint stipulation to
stay case pending Blackhawk Centercal appeal);
Johnson v. Starbucks Corp., No. 17-6836-JSC, Dkt.
No. 50 (same); Johnson v. Starbucks Corp., No.
18-cv-1134-TSH, Dkt. No. 56 (same); Johnson v. Starbucks
Corp., No. 18-2782-CRB, Dkt. No. 35 (same); Johnson
v. Starbucks Corp., No. 18-cv-3122-BLF, Dkt. No. 43
(same).) Thus, it is unclear what irreparable harm
Defendant Starbucks will suffer from a delay in discovery
when it has agreed to stays in similar cases.
the Court concludes that a stay is appropriate in this case.
Defendant Starbucks's claimed harm is outweighed by the
efficiency and simplification of the issues from a stay
because the Ninth Circuit decision will likely be
determinative of the counter issue. Requiring the case to
proceed will result in the parties engaging in discovery that
may be avoided, as well as the ...