The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece, United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"),
42 U.S.C. § 4321, et
seq., and the New York State Environmental
Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"), N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law § 8-101, et
seq., plaintiffs brought this action challenging the sufficiency of a
joint federal and state environmental review regarding the proposed
construction of an interstate highway exchange between Interstate 84
("I-84") and Drury Lane as well as improvements to connecting roads to
facilitate access to Stewart International Airport ("Stewart Airport")
Plaintiffs also alleged that the Federal Defendants violated
transportation laws, including section 4(f) of the Department of
Transportation Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. § 303, and 23 U.S.C. § 111.
By memorandum-decision and order dated September 30, 2002, the
undersigned granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied
Plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment and entered judgment for
defendants on all claims. See Stewart Park and Reserve Coalition v.
Slater, No. 00CV1606, 2002 WL 31163861 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2002).*fn1
Presently pending is Plaintiffs' motion for a stay of this Court's
September 30, 2002 judgment and an order barring Defendants from
proceeding with construction, destruction or any further development
regarding the interchange and Stewart Airport as well as a waiver of the
requirement of a supersedeas bond pursuant to Fed.R.App.Proc. 8(a).
Docket Nos. 73-75. Defendants oppose the motion. Docket Nos. 78-80, 83.
Plaintiffs also seek a temporary restraining order pending this Court's
determination on their motion for a stay. Docket No. 81. For the reasons
that follow, Plaintiffs' motion for a stay and an injuction pending their
appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is granted and
their motion for a temporary restraining order is denied as moot.
To determine whether a party is entitled to a stay pending appeal, the
movant must demonstrate: (1) a strong likelihood of success on the
merits; (2) irreparable injury absent a stay; (3) lack of injury to the
other parties if a stay is granted; and (4) where the public interest
lies. See Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776-77 (1987); see also
Mohammed v. Reno, 309 F.3d 95, ___, 2002 WL 31388971, at *3 (2d Cir.
Oct. 24, 2002).*fn2 In support of their motion, Plaintiffs contend
that: (1) they will succeed on appeal because this Court erred in
interpreting federal transportation laws and excessively deferred to the
agencies on the NEPA and SEQRA counts; (2) they will suffer irreparable
injury absent a stay because construction of the Stewart Airport and I-84
Interchange prior to an appeal would render this action moot; (3)
Defendants will not be injured if a stay were granted because they have
not taken substantial steps toward commencing construction; and (4) the
public would benefit from continued use of the land for recreational
In opposition to the motion, Defendants' main contention is that
have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits.
Indeed, at first blush, it appears as if Plaintiffs can only satisfy this
first factor if the Court determines that the September 30, 2002 decision
was in error. Recently, however, the Second Circuit adopted the Sixth
Circuit's reasoning in evaluating the four Hilton factors and held that
"`[t]he probability of success that must be demonstrated is inversely
proportional to the amount of irreparable injury plaintiffs will suffer
absent the stay. Simply stated, more of one excuses less of the other.'"
Mohammed, 2002 WL 31388971, at *4 (quoting Michigan Coalition of
Radioactive Material Users, Inc. v. Griepentrog, 945 F.2d 150, 153 (6th
Cir. 1991)). Here, absent a stay and injunctive relief, Defendants will
likely proceed with the planned construction of the I-84 Interchange and
Stewart Airport. Tynan Aff. (Docket No. 79), ¶ 10. It is evident that
such construction will irreparably harm Plaintiffs and render this action
moot. In light of the nature of injury to Plaintiffs absent a stay, they
do not need to demonstrate a high likelihood of success on appeal.
On appeal, the Second Circuit will review the Court's September 30,
2002 decision de novo. See Village of Grand View v. Skinner, 947 F.2d 651,
656 (2d Cir. 1991). Thus, Defendants' assertion that this Court made
factual determinations that Plaintiffs cannot overcome on appeal assumes
too much. While the Court rejected Plaintiffs' interpretation of federal
law as well as their experts' statistics, the Second Circuit's
independent analysis of the administrative record could be vastly
different. In light of the nature of injury and the standard of review
on appeal, Plaintiffs have satisfied the first two factors of the Hilton
With respect to the injury to the Defendants if a stay were granted,
Defendants assert that the State of New York could lose approximately $15
million in savings. Specifically, the State has accepted contract bids
for the proposed construction. Tynan Aff., ¶ 5. The low bid was in the
amount of $42,568,837.00. Id. at ¶ 6. The highest of six bids was
$58,629,011.00. Id. Pursuant to the agreement, the low bidder may
withdraw its bid. Id. at ¶ 7. Defendants contend that a stay may prompt
the low bidder to withdraw its bid, in which case, the State would award
the contract to the next lowest bidder. If this occurred, the State
could lose a savings of up to $15 million. It is worth noting that the
State advertised for bidding in August 2002, and the bid opening was on
September 12, 2002, prior to this Court's ruling on September 30, 2002.
Id. at ¶ 5. Since Defendants began the bidding process while litigation
was ongoing, any injury incurred by the State was at its own doing.*fn3
Thus, any injury to Defendants will not result from a stay, but from the
State's hastiness. Therefore, Plaintiffs have established the third
factor of the Hilton test.
With respect to the public interest factor, Plaintiffs assert that they
satisfy this factor because the public can continue to use Stewart Park
for recreational purposes. Defendants contend that the public interest
is served by construction of better roads and improved access to Stewart
Airport. In essence, the parties are asking this Court to determine an
issue long plaguing policymakers, i.e., open space versus development.
Defendants, however, concede that the construction will not be completed
until October 2004; thus, the public cannot be served by the improved
access to Stewart Airport prior to any ruling by
the Second Circuit. The
public, however, can continue to use the open space at least until the
Second Circuit's decision on the appeal. Therefore, under these
circumstances, the public is best served by granting the stay.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs have met the standard for a stay.*fn4
Finally, Plaintiffs also seek a waiver of the supersedeas bond
requirement. Plaintiffs have failed to provide any analysis or case law
explaining why they should not be required to post a bond. In contrast,
Defendants assert that a bond should be required because of the potential
financial loss to the State by the stay. Despite Plaintiffs failure to
assert any argument on this issue, this Court finds a bond is not
required. First, one purpose of a supersedeas bond is to guarantee a
party's ability to satisfy a money judgment. See Cayuga Indian Nation of
N.Y. v. Pataki, 188 F. Supp.2d 223, 255 (N.D.N.Y. 2002). There is no
money judgment at stake here. Further, as discussed above, any financial
injury suffered by the State is at its own hands.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs' motion for a waiver of the supersedeas bond
requirement is granted.
ORDERED that Plaintiffs' motion for a stay of the Court's September
30, 2002 judgment and for an injunction pending an appeal to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is GRANTED; Defendants are
enjoined from proceeding with construction, destruction or any further
development regarding the ...