United States District Court, S.D. New York
OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL OETKEN United States District Judge
three years ago, Plaintiff LifeTree Trading Pte. Ltd.
(“LifeTree”) filed this action against Defendant
Washakie Renewable Energy, LLC (“Washakie”),
alleging breach of a $90 million contract for biofuel. Last
month, this Court denied Washakie's eleventh-hour motion
to compel arbitration, and Washakie appealed. Washakie now
moves for a stay pending its appeal. For the reasons that
follow, Washakie's motion is denied.
with the underlying facts of this litigation, as set out in
this Court's prior opinions, is presumed. See
LifeTree Trading Pte., Ltd. v. Washakie Renewable Energy,
LLC, No. 14 Civ. 9075, 2017 WL 2414805 (S.D.N.Y. June 2,
2017); Lifetree Trading Pte., Ltd. v. Washakie Renewable
Energy, LLC, No. 14 Civ. 9075, 2015 WL 3948097 (S.D.N.Y.
June 29, 2015). The Court briefly reiterates the facts
necessary to resolve the pending motion.
filed suit against Washakie and several individual defendants
in November 2014. (Dkt. No. 1.) Washakie moved to dismiss in
2015, and LifeTree simultaneously moved for partial summary
judgment on the issue of Washakie's liability for breach
of contract. (See Dkt. Nos. 22, 28.) The Court
granted in part the defendants' motion to dismiss but
denied LifeTree's motion for summary judgment as to
liability. See Lifetree, 2015 WL 3948097, at *5,
*7-9. In denying summary judgment, the Court relied heavily
on sworn affidavits from Washakie's principals attesting
to an oral condition precedent that required Washakie to
obtain a line of credit from a Turkish bank. See id.
years of discovery followed. After all that time, Washakie
finally revealed that the purported “condition
precedent” was pure fabrication. “This bears
repeating: The Kingstons submitted sworn statements to the
Court admitting that their previous sworn statements to the
Court were not true.” LifeTree, 2017 WL
2414805, at *2.
moved for sanctions, and-the issue of liability no longer
contested-the parties cross-moved for summary judgment on
damages. See LifeTree, 2017 WL 2414805, at *2.
Recognizing that Washakie's principals'
“continued fraud prolonged this action [and] forc[ed]
costly and time-consuming discovery on what appeared to be a
central issue in the case, ” the Court granted
LifeTree's request for sanctions and ordered Washakie to
pay LifeTree's attorney's fees and costs.
Id. at *3.
Court declined, however, to grant summary judgment on
damages. The parties' experts had proposed “vastly
divergent damages figures” ranging from $765, 370
(Washakie's number) to $25, 329, 370 (LifeTree's
number). See Id. at *5. Concluding that a genuine
dispute of material fact existed as to the date of default,
the Court explained that damages “is an issue to be
resolved by a jury at trial.” Id. at *6.
Court was preparing to set a trial date, further delay
ensued. In June 2017, defense counsel disclosed that Washakie
was not paying its legal fees, and counsel moved for
permission to withdraw from the representation. (See
Dkt. Nos. 103, 105.) The Court granted that request and
warned Washakie that it must retain new counsel within three
weeks. (Dkt. No. 107.) New counsel filed an appearance at the
last possible moment, on August 4, 2017 (see Dkt.
No. 108), and, through its new counsel, Washakie filed a
written demand for a jury trial on September 15, 2017
(see Dkt. No. 112).
Court then set a conference for September 29, 2017, for the
purpose of setting a date for the jury trial. On the day
before the conference, September 28-two weeks after filing
its jury demand-Washakie filed a motion to compel
arbitration. (See Dkt. No. 116.)
September 29, 2017, the Court denied Washakie's motion
from the bench, finding that Washakie's extensive
participation in this litigation had waived any right it may
have had to arbitrate. (Dkt. No. 119 (“Tr.”) at
12:8‒11; Dkt. No. 117.) Washakie then filed an
interlocutory appeal from this Court's decision (Dkt. No.
121), and it now moves to stay proceedings while its appeal
is pending (Dkt. No. 122).
the pendency of an appeal from an order denying a motion to
compel arbitration, “a district court . . . has
jurisdiction to proceed with a case absent a stay from [the
court of appeals].” Motorola Credit Corp. v.
Uzan, 388 F.3d 39, 54 (2d Cir. 2004). “[E]ither
the district court or the court of appeals may-but is not