ANDREW G. CHASE, ESQ., NICHOLS, KASTER LAW FIRM, Minnesota, Attorney for Plaintiffs.
MATTHEW T. DUNN, ESQ., MICHAEL J.D. SWEENEY, ESQ., GETMAN, SWEENEY LAW FIRM, New York, Attorney for Plaintiffs.
HOWARD M. WEXLER, ESQ. SEYFARTH SHAW LLP., New York, Attorney for Defendant.
BARRY J. MILLER, ESQ., SEYFARTH SHAW LLP., Massachusetts, Attorney for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
RANDOLPH F. TREECE, Magistrate Judge.
Currently before this Court is Prospect Mortgage LLC's (hereinafter "Prospect Mortgage") Motion to Stay Pending Decision on Transfer of this case to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (hereinafer "JPML") for the coordination and consolidation of the pretrial proceedings filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. Dkt. No. 13, Def.'s Mot. to Stay, dated Sept. 18, 2013. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. Dkt. No. 19, Pl.'s Amend. Opp'n, dated Oct. 4, 2013. Prospect Mortgage filed a Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition. Dkt. No. 21, Def.'s Reply, dated Oct. 11, 2013. For the following reasons, Prospect Mortgage's Motion is granted.
On April 23, 2013, Plaintiffs filed this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the New York Labor Law, Article 19, § 650 et seq., alleging that Prospect Mortgage violated these statutory provisions by classifying these loan officers as exempt employees and failing to pay them overtime. Dkt. Nos. 1 Compl., 5, Am. Compl. Originally, Plaintiffs were opt-in plaintiffs in a collective action in the Eastern District of California, Sliger et al. v. Prospect Mortgage, LLC et al., Case No. 2:11-CV-465 (E.D.Cal.) (hereinafter "Sliger Action"). The Sliger Action was conditionally certified as a collective action and minimal discovery ensued. Although the parties expended considerable energy and resources in an attempt to settle the Sliger Action, approximately two years later, the collective action was decertified. Under the decertification, the Sliger opt-in plaintiffs were granted permission to pursue their individual claims in other district court fora. Dkt. Nos. 13-1, Def.'s Mem. of Law at p. 2, 19, Pls.' Mem. of Law at pp. 2-3.
As a consequence of the decertification of the Sliger Action, 243 of the opt-in plaintiffs filed individual claims against Prospect Mortgage in thirty-seven (37) different district courts. Pls.' Mem. of Law at p. 3. On August 16, 2013, Prospect Mortgage filed a motion with the JPML, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407, requesting that all of these pending cases, including this case, be transferred to a single forum for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. Dkt. No. 10, Def.'s Notice, dated Aug. 28, 2013. It is anticipated that the MDL Motion will be heard by the JPML on December 5, 2013. Def.'s Mem. of Law at pp. 2-3.
At this juncture of the litigation, neither a Rule 26(f) nor a Rule 16 conference has been convened in order to issue a scheduling order and commence discovery. See FED. R. CIV. P. 16 & 26(f). In addition to this pending Motion for a Stay, Plaintiffs have filed a Motion to Strike Defendant's Jury Trial Demand. Dkt. No. 17, Pl.'s Mot. to Strike, dated Oct. 1, 2013. Otherwise, no other motion or proceeding are at play. While little has occurred regarding this case, other related cases have steadily advanced. Apparently, scheduling orders were issued in at least twenty-three (23) cases, and "virtually identical discovery" which includes interrogatories and requests for production have been served in each. See Dkt. Nos. 13-2, Howard M. Wexler Decl., dated Sept. 18, 2013, at ¶ 8, 21-1, Howard M. Wexler, Reply Decl., dated Oct. 11, 2013, at ¶¶ 3-5. Additionally, similar to here, "Plaintiffs' counsel has also filed motions to strike Defendant's jury trial demand in several other cases." Wexler Decl. at ¶ 9.
II. LEGAL STANDARD
The principle purpose of MDL is to avoid piecemeal litigation and coordinate pretrial proceedings. Multi-District Litig. Manual § 3.3. 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a) provides, in pertinent part:
When civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts, such actions may be transferred to any district for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. Such transfers shall be made by the judicial panel on multidistrict litigation authorized by this section upon its determination that transfers for such proceedings will be for the convenience of parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of such actions.
While the decision to transfer a matter to the JPML is pending, a court may contemplate staying the current matter before it. "The 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." Louise Vuitton Malletier S.A. v. Ly USA, Inc., 676 F.3d 83, 96 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Landis v. North Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). By possessing sweeping managerial authority over its own docket, a district court would be acting within its discretion when invoking a stay in such cases as an MDL or mass tort. In re Zyprexa Prods. Liab. Litig., 594 F.3d 113, 127 n.61 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Landis v. North Am. Co . ). In fact, it is rather common for courts to stay cases pending a motion for MDL. Royal Park Invs. SA/NV v. Bank of Am. Corp., 2013 WL 1509854, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 12, 2013) (citations omitted); In re OxyContin Antitrust Litig., 2012 WL 5184949, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 12, 2012) (considering a stay in a MDL case). In deciding whether a stay is appropriate, a court should consider (1) the private interests of the plaintiffs in proceeding expeditiously with the civil litigation as balanced against the prejudice to the ...