United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD A. LLORET U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, has filed a
motion to stay these proceedings. The Plaintiff has filed a
response in opposition. For the reasons set forth below, I
will deny the motion.
April of 2019 the defendant filed notices of appeal in two
cases decided in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, each of
which found that the plaintiffs had not waived their
Appointments Clause challenges by failing to raise them
during administrative proceedings. See Cirko v.
Berryhill, 2019 WL 1014195 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 4, 2019),
appeal filed, No. 19-1772 (3d Cir. Apr. 10, 2019),
and Bizarre v. Berryhill, 364 F.Supp.3d 418 (M.D.
Pa. 2019), appeal filed, No. 19-1773 (3d Cir. Apr.
17, 2019). On June 20, 2019 defendant filed a Motion to Stay
(Doc. 17) (“Mot.”) in this case, requesting that
the case be stayed pending resolution by the Third Circuit of
Cirko and Bizarre. Defendant contends that
the pending appeals raise the same Appointments Clause issue
presented in this case. See Mot. at ¶ 4.
Plaintiff's counsel objects to the Motion. (Doc. 18.)
the exercise of its sound discretion, a court may hold one
lawsuit in abeyance to abide the outcome of another which may
substantially affect it or be dispositive of the
issues.” Bechtel Corp. v. Local 215, Laborers'
Int'l Union of N. Am., AFL-CIO, 544 F.2d 1207, 1215
(3d Cir. 1976) (citing Am. Life Ins. Co. v. Stewart,
300 U.S. 203, 215 (1937)). The Supreme Court has explained
that “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. How this can best
be done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh
competing interests and maintain an even balance.”
Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936).
deciding a motion to stay proceedings pending the resolution
of another action in federal court, I must consider
“whether the proposed stay would prejudice the
non-moving party, whether the proponent of the stay would
suffer a hardship or inequity if forced to proceed and
whether granting the stay would further the interest of
judicial economy.” Airgas, Inc. v. Cravath, Swaine
& Moore LLP, 2010 WL 624955, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Feb.
22, 2010) (citing Landis, 299 U.S.at
254-55). The Supreme Court has made clear that in
deciding whether to stay a suit pending the outcome of
another suit, the party moving for a stay “must make
out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to
go forward, if there is even a fair possibility that the stay
for which he prays will work damage to [someone] else. Only
in rare circumstances will a litigant in one cause be
compelled to stand aside while a litigant in another settles
the rule of law that will define the rights of both.”
Landis, 299 U.S. at 555. See also CTF Hotel
Holdings, Inc. v. Marriott Int'l, Inc., 381 F.3d
131, 139 (3d Cir. 2004) (the party seeking the stay
“must state a clear countervailing interest to abridge
a party's right to litigate”); Gold v.
Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 723 F.2d 1068, 1075-76 (3d
Cir. 1983) (“It is well settled that before a stay may
be issued, the [party seeking the stay] must demonstrate a
clear case of hardship or inequity, if there is even a fair
possibility that the stay would work damage on another party.
In these cases, the clear damage to the [non-moving parties]
is the hardship of being forced to wait for an indefinite and
. . . a lengthy time before their causes are heard.”)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). “The
proponent of a stay bears the burden of establishing its
need.” Richardson v. Verde Energy USA, Inc.,
2016 WL 4478839, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 25, 2016) (quoting
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997)).
defendant has not demonstrated a clear case of hardship or
inequity. Rather, defendant merely posits that granting the
stay “will promote judicial efficiency and ensure
consistency on” the Appointments Clause issue. (Mot.
¶ 4.) By contrast, the plaintiff certainly will suffer
the hardship of waiting months, perhaps years, for the
resolution of the appeal, only to wait yet longer for this
Court's decision on the ordinary merits of the case if
the court of appeals rejects the Appointments Clause
arguments advanced by plaintiffs in the pending appeals. If
the plaintiff would have prevailed on the ordinary merits,
the plaintiff will have been deprived of months, perhaps
years, of time on remand to the Commissioner for further
proceedings. If on the other hand this Court decides
this case, and the court of appeals agrees with the
plaintiffs' Appointments Clause arguments in
Cirko and Bizarre, it will be simple enough
to issue a remand based on the Appointments Clause violation,
whatever the district court's determination on the
balance of the issues.
that it is just and efficient to proceed to decide both the
Appointments Clause issue and the ordinary merits of the
case, rather than waiting for the court of appeals to decide
the Appointments Clause issue. I will deny defendant's
motion to stay these proceedings pending resolution of the
appeals in Cirko and Bizarre.
 “Although the Third Circuit has
not endorsed a definitive formulation of factors to consider,
courts in this Circuit engage in a balancing analysis to
determine if a stay is appropriate.” Razak v. Uber
Techs., Inc., 2016 WL 3960556, at *3 (E.D. Pa. July 21,
2016). These factors have been articulated in various ways.
See, e.g., Brandywine Vill. Assocs. v. Carlino E.
Brandywine, L.P., 2018 WL 3752876, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Aug.
8, 2018) (“Applying Landis, this Court
considers four factors before granting a stay: (1) the length
of the requested stay; (2) the hardship that the movant would
face if the stay was not granted; (3) the injury that a stay
would inflict on the non-movant; and (4) whether granting a
stay would streamline the proceedings by simplifying issues
and promoting judicial economy.”) (internal quotations
omitted), appeal filed, No. 18-2874 (3d Cir. Aug.
23, 2018); City of New Castle v. Purdue Pharma L.P.,
2018 WL 3438841, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 16, 2018) (“In
order to decide a motion to stay proceedings pending the
resolution of another action in federal court, courts have
considered the following three factors: ‘(1) the
promotion of judicial economy; (2) the balance of harm to the
parties; and (3) the duration of the requested
stay.'”) (quoting Cirulli v. Bausch & Lomb,
Inc., 2009 WL 545572, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 4, 2009)).
The Third Circuit has considered similar factors when
deciding whether to grant a stay pending appeal: “(1)
whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he
is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant
will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether
issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other
parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the
public interest lies.” Republic of Philippines v.
Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 949 F.2d 653, 658 (3d Cir.
1991) (citing to four factors identified in Hilton v.
Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987)).
 This assumes that the Commissioner
would not appeal such a case but instead accept a remand
because of the disposition on the ordinary ...