United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STAY RE: DKT. NO.
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Derrick and Annette Luckey, proceeding pro se, filed this
motion to stay pending the resolution of a legislative
proposal that “will have a direct and immediate impact
on this litigation” if enacted by Congress. Dkt. No. 23
(“Mot.”). The government does not oppose the
motion, as long as the stay is “entered for a
reasonable period of time.” Dkt. No. 26. Specifically,
the government requests a limited stay of ninety (90) days.
Id. The Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion and
STAYS this action.
executors of their daughter Danyelle A. Luckey's
(“Ms. Luckey's”) estate, filed this action
against the United States and the United States Department of
the Navy, alleging that Defendants' failure to treat Ms.
Luckey proximately caused her death. Dkt. No. 1
(“Compl.”). Ms. Luckey was a Personnel Assistant
in the U.S. Navy and passed away onboard the U.S.S.
Ronald Reagan. Id. ¶ 6-8. A threshold
dispute in this case is whether the Supreme Court's
holding in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135
(1950), precludes Plaintiffs from bringing suit against the
government. In Feres, the Supreme Court held that
the government could not be liable “for injuries to
servicemen where the injuries arise out of or are in the
course of activity incident to service.” 340 U.S. at
146. Plaintiffs argue that Feres does not apply
because Ms. Luckey was ill when she first came aboard the
U.S.S. Reagan and passed away due to the medical
staff's alleged failure to treat her, such that her case
does not “involve ‘injuries or death sustained in
activities incident to military service.'” Compl.
¶ 18. Defendants argue that Feres applies and
bars this action. Dkt. No. 27 ¶ 1 (Defendants'
April 30, 2019, several House representatives introduced H.R.
2422, the Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military
Medical Accountability Act of 2019, which if passed would
overturn Feres and allow military servicemembers to
sue the government for instances of medical malpractice. H.R.
2422, 116th Cong. (2019). H.R. 2500, the National Defense
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (“NDAA
2020”), incorporates the proposed bill. H.R. 2500,
116th Cong. (2019). NDAA 2020 was introduced on May 2, 2019,
and passed the House on July 12, 2019. 165 Cong. Rec.
H5733-43, H5750-64. It is now currently before the Senate.
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). In considering whether to
issue a stay, courts weigh: (1) “the possible damage
which may result from the granting of a stay, ” (2)
“the hardship or inequity which 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 of issues, proof, and questions
of law which could be expected to result from a stay.”
CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir.
1962) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55). Whether
to stay an action is a matter entrusted to the discretion of
the district court. See Landis, 299 U.S. at 254
(“How this can best be done calls for the exercise of
judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain
an even balance.”).
request that this action be stayed for a period that is the
shorter of (a) completion of the current 116th Congressional
session, or (b) a determination as to H.R. 2422. Mot. at 2.
Given the posture of NDAA 2020 and H.R. 2422 in the
legislative process, the Court finds it appropriate in its
discretion to stay the case.
the first factor, the Court finds it unlikely that a stay
would cause harm to either party. Defendants do not oppose
the stay. Dkt. No. 26. With respect to the second factor,
Plaintiffs would suffer potential hardship and inequity if
required to proceed, given that Congress is considering a new
law that, if passed, could provide Plaintiffs with a claim
that may be barred under current law. For this same reason, the
third factor favors a stay: a central dispute before the
Court is whether Feres applies, and passage of the
NDAA 2020 would clarify (or even conclusively resolve) that
question. Staying this case for a limited time to see whether
the bill passes will preserve the judicial and party
resources that otherwise would be spent litigating this issue
in the meantime.
otherwise ordered, this case is STAYED pending Congress's
passage or rejection of NDAA 2020. The parties are DIRECTED
to submit a joint status report within five days of such
passage or rejection. If passage or rejection does not occur
within ninety (90) days, the parties are directed to submit a
joint status report updating the Court on the status of the