United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FISH SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is the motion of the plaintiff Southwest Airlines
Company (“Southwest”) to stay the effect of the
court's previous order pending appeal (docket entry 42).
For the reasons set forth below, the plaintiff's motion
recitation of the factual background of this case is provided
in the court's memorandum opinion and order issued on
December 29, 2017.
Opinion and Order (docket entry 39). In that order, the court
vacated the portion of the arbitration award at issue that
purported to rule on the merits of the union's grievance,
left the remainder of the award untouched, and remanded the
dispute to arbitration before a new arbitrator. Id.
subsequently appealed this court's decision and filed the
instant motion asking the court to stay the effect of its
previous order, thereby preserving the present status quo
until the Fifth Circuit has had a chance to decide the case.
Plaintiff Southwest Airlines Co.'s Motion to Stay Effect
of Court's Order Pending Appeal; Plaintiff Southwest
Airlines Co.'s Brief in Support of its Motion to Stay
Effect of Court's Order Pending Appeal
(“Southwest's Brief”) at 1 (docket entry 43).
The defendant, Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO,
Local 555 (“TWU Local 555”), opposes the
plaintiff's motion, insisting that the court should deny
the stay. See Defendant/Counter-Claimant TWU Local
556's [sic] Response to SWA's Motion to Stay the
Court's Order (“TWU Local 555's
Response”) at 4 (docket entry 50). Southwest's
motion is now ripe for decision.
stay is an intrusion into the ordinary processes of
administration and judicial review, and accordingly is not a
matter of right, even if irreparable injury might otherwise
result to the appellant.” Barber v. Bryant,
833 F.3d 510, 511 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Nken v.
Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 427 (2009)). A stay is “an
exercise of judicial discretion, and the propriety of its
issue is dependent upon the circumstances of the particular
case.” Nken, 556 U.S. at 433 (internal
quotation marks and brackets omitted). “The party
requesting a stay bears the burden of showing that the
circumstances justify an exercise of that discretion.”
Id. at 433-34 (citing, inter alia, Clinton v.
Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997)).
even though the decision of whether to issue a stay is
committed to the court's sound discretion, the Supreme
Court has made clear that a legal standard circumscribes that
discretion. See id. at 434. Specifically, when faced
with a motion to stay, the court must consider four factors:
“(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.” Id.
(quoting Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776
(1987)). The court does not consider the four factors on
equal footing; instead, “[t]he first two factors . . .
are the most critical.” Id.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
respect to the first factor, the Fifth Circuit has stated
that “the movant need not always show a
‘probability' of success on the merits; instead,
the movant need only present a substantial case on the merits
when a serious legal question is involved and show that the
balance of the equities weighs heavily in favor of granting
the stay.” Ruiz v. Estelle (Ruiz I), 650 F.2d
555, 565 (5th Cir. 1981). But in a later decision the Fifth
Circuit further clarified the first factor, specifying that
“[l]ikelihood of success remains a prerequisite in the
usual case even if it is not an invariable requirement. Only
if the balance of equities (i.e. consideration of the other
three factors) is . . . heavily tilted in the movant's
favor will we issue a stay in its absence, and, even then,
the issue must be one with patent substantial merit.”
Ruiz v. Estelle (Ruiz II), 666 F.2d 854, 856-57 (5th
Cir. 1982) (internal quotation marks omitted).
contends that it has satisfied the first requirement for a
stay because this case involves a “serious legal
question” and it has presented a “substantial
case on the merits.” See Southwest's Brief
at 5. Relying on language from this court's previous
order rejecting Southwest's arguments at summary
judgment, Southwest now maintains that “[t]he merits in
this case are certainly close enough to justify a stay,