United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant American Family
Mutual Insurance Company's motion to stay this action
pending appeal of a related judgment in Washington State
superior court. Dkt. 24. Plaintiffs Kathleen and Russell Link
oppose Defendant's motion. For the reasons that follow,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion.
following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff Kathleen Link and
her daughter, Vanessa, were injured when their vehicle has
hit by another vehicle driven by Yen Wally. Wally was insured
by Defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Wally and her husband, Edison
Wally, in Snohomish County Superior Court. Plaintiffs entered
into a stipulated judgment with the Wallys, which assigned
Plaintiffs any claims arising out of the Wallys'
insurance contract with Defendant. The superior court found
the stipulated judgment reasonable, a finding which Defendant
is currently challenging on appeal.
entering into the stipulated judgment-and stepping into the
shoes of the Wallys-Plaintiffs brought the instant suit
asserting various claims against Defendant, including breach
of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, bad faith, and
violations of the Unfair Claims Practices Act, Washington
Consumer Protection Act, and Insurance Fair Conduct Act.
Plaintiffs and Defendant have each moved for summary
judgment. However, Defendant now moves to stay the proceeding
and postpone resolution of the summary judgment motions while
its appeal of the superior court's reasonableness finding
is pending. Plaintiffs oppose the motion.
LEGAL STANDARD 
is well-established that a district court possesses the power
to stay cases, which is incidental to the ‘inherent
power to control its docket and promote efficient use of
judicial resources.'” Trotsky v. Travelers
Indem. Co., 2013 WL 12116152, at *1 (W.D. Wash. April 5,
2013) (quoting Dependable Highway Exp., Inc. v.
Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir.
2007)). “A trial court may, with propriety, find it is
efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for the
parties to enter a stay of an action before it, pending
resolution of independent proceedings which bear upon the
case.” Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal.,
Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64 (1979).
the Court's discretion to grant a stay is not unfettered.
A district court should consider a number of factors in
determining whether to grant a stay. First, “if there
is even a fair possibility that the stay . . . will work
damage to someone else, ” the stay may be inappropriate
absent a showing by the moving party of a “clear case
of hardship or inequity.” Landis v. North Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 255 (1936). Second, a stay should
generally not be granted “unless it appears likely the
other proceedings will be concluded within a reasonable
time.” Leyva, 593 F.2d at 864. Third,
“courts more appropriately enter stay orders where a
party seeks only damages, does not allege continuing harm,
and does not seek injunctive or declaratory relief since a
stay would result only in a delay in monetary
recovery.” Trotsky, 2013 WL 12116152, at *2
(citing Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109
(9th Cir. 2005)).
argues that a stay is appropriate because a reversal of the
superior court's judgment would strip Plaintiffs of
standing in this case. Indeed, the viability of
Plaintiffs' bad-faith claims depends on the validity of
the stipulated judgment. If the judgment is reversed by the
state court of appeals, then Plaintiffs-who do not have an
insurance contract with Defendant-will not have standing to
bring the claims that form the basis of this suit.
counter that a stay would “substantially injure”
them because: (1) they “have a strong interest in
finality”; and (2) the monetary judgment imposed by the
superior court remains unsatisfied while the appeal is
pending. Pls.' Resp., Dkt. 29 at 7. But a stay in
this proceeding has no effect on the finality of the
Plaintiffs' judgment in the state court. Nor will it
prevent the Wallys, who are not a party to the instant suit,
from paying the damages they owe to Plaintiffs under the
stipulated judgment. Further, Plaintiffs are seeking only
monetary damages in this case and do not allege any
continuing harm that would necessitate immediate relief.
party addresses whether the appeal will be resolved within a
reasonable time, but the briefing schedule provided by
Defendant indicates that the Washington Court of Appeals is
fully briefed and ready to consider the appeal. Def.'s
Mot., Dkt. 24 at 3. The Court is, therefore, satisfied that
the matter will be resolved in a reasonable time and grants
Defendant's motion to stay the proceeding. The pending
motions for summary judgment are continued until such time as
the court of appeals determines whether the superior court
erred in its determination that the stipulated
judgment-including the assignment of the Wallys' claims
to Plaintiffs-was reasonable.
the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion for stay pending appeal. The parties
shall provide notice to the Court immediately upon the
resolution of the pending ...