United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
PITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court in the above-entitled action is Defendant's
Motion to Stay Proceedings. (Dkt. 11). Having reviewed the
motion and the responsive filings thereto, applicable law,
and the entire case law, the Court hereby issues the
BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW
Tate Clark (“Plaintiff”) filed suit against
Defendant Southwest Airlines Company
(“Defendant”) in Texas state court in June 2016,
alleging Defendant violated the Family Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”) by interfering with his rights under the
FMLA and by retaliating against him for engaging in activity
protected by the FMLA. (See generally Dkt. 1-1).
Plaintiff seeks damages including lost wages and benefits,
interest, and liquidated damages. (Id. at 4).
Defendant removed the matter to federal court on July 27,
2016. (Dkt. 1).
January 26, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion, which
urges the Court to stay these proceedings pending the outcome
of labor arbitration. (Dkt. 11). The first day of labor
arbitration was held on March 30, 2017, but Defendant does
not expect the second day of arbitration to take place until,
at the earliest, June 2017. (Supplement, Dkt. 16,
3 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“Section 3”)
provides that a district court must stay a lawsuit when a
party demonstrates that any issue involved in the suit is
“referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing
for such arbitration.” 9 U.S.C. § 3; Complaint
of Hornbeck Offshore (1984) Corp., 981 F.2d 752, 754
(5th Cir. 1993). The provision is mandatory and demands a
stay of legal proceedings “whenever the issues in a
case are within the reach of an arbitration agreement.”
Id. at 754 (quoting Midwest Mech. Contractors,
Inc. v. Commonwealth Constr. Co., 801 F.2d 748 (5th Cir.
1986)). The mandatory stay provision also applies to
non-signatories to an arbitration agreement when the suit
sought to be stayed (1) involves the same operative facts,
(2) involves inherently inseparable claims, and (3) has a
critical impact on the arbitration. Waste Mgmt., Inc. v.
Residuos Industriales Multiquim, S.A. de C.V., 372 F.3d
339, 345 (5th Cir. 2004).
also have discretionary authority to issue a stay pending the
outcome of the arbitration. Hornbeck Offshore, 981
F.2d at 755. That power 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). Determining
whether to issue a discretionary stay “calls for the
exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests
and maintain an even balance.” Id. at 254-55.
instant matter, the Court is unable to determine the
applicability of Section 3 given Defendant's failure to
identify, define, or explain the arbitration agreement in
question. See Waste Management, 372 F.3d at 340
(describing and identifying the arbitration agreement in
question and applying Section 3 to a non-signatory to that
agreement); Broussard v. First Tower Loan, LLC, 150
F.Supp.3d. 709, 714-15 (E.D. La. 2015) (describing an
arbitration agreement and granting a motion to stay pursuant
to Section 3).
Court is to grant Defendant's Motion to Stay, it must
therefore do so pursuant to its discretionary authority. As
noted above, determining whether to issue a discretionary
stay is an exercise of judgment that weighs the competing
interests of the parties. Landis, 299 U.S. at 254.
Ultimately, the burden is upon the party seeking the stay to
“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.” In re Davis, 730 F.2d 176, 178 (5th
Cir. 1984) (quoting Landis, 299 U.S. at 255).
“[W]hen granting a stay pending resolution of another
case, the court must consider the time expected for
resolution of that case. The resultant stay must not be of
immoderate or indefinite duration.” Pecan East
Antonio Inv'rs, Inc. v. KPMG LLP, No. 5:04-CA-677,
2005 WL 2105751, at *4 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 31, 2005) (citing
Wedgeworth v. Fibreboard Corp., 706 F.2d 541, 545
Defendant cites a number of cases in which courts granted
discretionary stays due to ongoing arbitration proceedings,
those opinions all incorporate a discussion of the
arbitration agreement in question. See U.S. ex. Rel. John
Jamar Const. Servs. V. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of
Am., No. H-14-3363, 2015 WL 757858, at *1 (S.D. Tex.
Feb. 23, 2015) (“The subcontract . . . includes a broad
and mandatory arbitration clause.”); Mosaic
Underwriting Serv., Inc. v. Moncla Marine Operations,
L.L.C., No. 12-2183, 2013 WL 2903083, at *5 (E.D. La.
June 12, 2013) (identifying a signatory defendant and
nonsignatory plaintiff); Suzlon Infrastructure, Ltd. V.
Pulk, No. H-09-2206, 2010 WL 3540951, at *2 (S.D. Tex.
Sept. 10, 2010) (quoting the arbitration provision at issue);
Shores of Panama, Inc. v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am.,
No. 07-602, 2008 WL 4417558, at *1 (S.D. Ala. Sept. 29, 2008)
(describing a contract between a plaintiff and defendant and
quoting the contract's arbitration provision);
Midland Walwyn Capital Inc. v. Spear, Leeds &
Kellogg, No. 92-2236, 1992 WL 249914, at *1-2 (S.D.N.Y.
Sept. 22, 1992) (citing the arbitration agreement at issue).
Defendant argues that a stay is appropriate because
“judicial efficiency and economy weigh in favor of
staying this litigation until clarity prevails regarding the
relief, if any, the labor arbitrator awards
[Plaintiff].” (Mot. Stay, Dkt. 11, at 6). In response,
Plaintiff argues that he would not be able to obtain
liquidated damages via the pending arbitration and that the
arbitration has been pending for almost two years. (Resp.,
Dkt. 12, at 2).
Defendant's narrow emphasis on judicial economy and
failure to “make out a clear case of hardship or
inequity in being required to go forward, ” even in the
face of potential damage to Plaintiff, the Court finds that
exercising its ...