United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING STAY
L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Defendants Kia Motors America
(“KMA”), Kia Motors Company (“KMC”),
Hyundai Motor America (“HMA”), and Hyundai Motor
Company's (“HMC”) (collectively,
“Defendants”) motion to stay this action pending
a ruling by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
(“JPML”) on the motion to transfer and coordinate
or consolidate (“the MDL Motion”). (Mot. (Dkt. #
29).) Plaintiffs Linda Short, Olivia Parker, Elizabeth
Snider, and James Twigger, on behalf of themselves and all
others similarly situated (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”), oppose the motion (Resp. (Dkt. #
32)), and Defendants filed a reply (Reply (Dkt. # 33)). The
court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions
concerning the motion, the relevant portions of the record,
and the applicable law. Being fully advised,  the court GRANTS
March 4, 2019, Ms. Short and Ms. Parker filed an action
against Defendants on behalf of a nationwide class. (Compl.
(Dkt. # 1).) On March 13, 2019, Ms. Snider and Mr. Twigger
filed a similar action against Defendants on behalf of a
nationwide class. See Snider v. Hyundai Motor Am.
Inc., No. C19-5193JLR (W.D. Wash.), Dkt. # 1. The court
consolidated these cases on April 26, 2019. (See
4/26/19 Order (Dkt. # 22).) Plaintiffs then filed a
consolidated complaint, alleging that Defendants'
vehicles are defective and asserting claims for fraudulent
concealment, breach of implied warranty, unfair competition,
false advertising, and violations of other consumer
protection laws. (See generally Cons. Compl. (Dkt. #
23); see also Id. ¶¶ 86-190.)
case is one of 11 actions filed in four jurisdictions on
behalf of owners and lessees of certain Hyundai and Kia
vehicles with gasoline direct injection (“GDI”)
engines. (Mot. at 2.) Five actions have been consolidated in
the Central District of California in In re Hyundai and
Kia Case, No. 8:17-cv-00838 (C.D. Cal.). (Id.)
On April 23, 2019, the plaintiffs in one of the other matters
filed the MDL Motion. (See Notice (Dkt. # 24); Mot.
at 3); see also In re Hyundai & Kia GDI Engine Mktg.,
Sales Practices, and Prod. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2898
(J.P.M.L.), Dkt. # 1. The actions in the proposed
multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) allege
violations of state and federal laws on behalf of a
nationwide class of owners and lessees of certain models of
Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured with GDI engines. (Mot.
and Defendants in the present case oppose the MDL motion.
(Id. at 4.) Defendants represent that, although no
hearing has been set for the MDL motion, the motion
“will likely be heard at the next JPML hearing session
on July 25, 2019.” (Id.)
filed the present motion to stay on June 6, 2019. (See
Id. at 1.) Defendants represent that four of the other
11 actions have been stayed pending the JPML's decision.
(Id. at 4.) Defendants represent that, as of that
date, the parties had not exchanged any discovery and no
substantive motion practice had occurred. (Id. at
3.) However, after filing the motion to stay, on July 5,
2019, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs'
complaint. (See MTD (Dkt. # 37).)
decision to grant or deny a temporary stay of proceedings
pending a ruling on the transfer of a matter to the JPML lies
within the court's discretion. See Landis v. N. Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936); Good v. Prudential
Ins. Co. of Am., 5 F.Supp.2d 804, 809 (N.D. Cal. 1998)
(“Courts frequently grant stays pending a decision by
the MDL panel regarding whether to transfer a case.”)
(citing cases). The court is not obligated to stay
proceedings pending the decision of the JPML. See
Rules of the Judicial Panel on MDL, Rule 2.1(d) (“The
pendency of a motion . . . before the Panel pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1407 does not affect or suspend orders or
pretrial proceedings in any pending federal district court
action and does not limit the pretrial jurisdiction of that
court.”). When considering a motion to stay pretrial
proceedings, a district court should consider three factors:
(1) the potential prejudice to the nonmoving party if a stay
is granted; (2) the hardship to the moving party if a stay is
denied; and (3) the judicial resources that would be saved by
avoiding duplicative litigation if the JPML grants the
transfer motion. Rivers v. Walt Disney, 980 F.Supp.
1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997). A stay is appropriate when it
serves the interests of judicial economy and efficiency.
Id. Plaintiffs oppose this motion, arguing first
that a stay will not conserve judicial resources because the
JPML is unlikely to grant the MDL Motion and that, due to the
early stage of this case, the court will likely not need to
expend resources before the JPML resolves the MDL Motion.
(Resp. at 2-4.) Plaintiffs, however, misunderstand this
factor. At this stage, the court does not weigh the
likelihood that the JPML will grant the transfer motion;
rather, the court considers whether judicial resources
“would be saved by avoiding duplicative litigation if
the cases are in fact consolidated.” ACLU of Wash.
v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., No. C17-0562RSL,
2017 WL 2437606, at *1 (W.D. Wash. June 6, 2017) (quoting
Rivers, 980 F.Supp. at 1360). Further, Defendants
have now filed a motion to dismiss, which will require the
court's attention absent a stay. (See MTD.) This
effort will be duplicative if the JPML grants the MDL Motion.
This factor, which is the “most important factor”
when considering a motion to stay pending an MDL motion,
see Stuart v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., No.
1:08-CV-0632 OWW GSA, 2008 WL 11388470, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec.
23, 2008), therefore weighs in favor of granting a stay.
also oppose the motion on the basis that Defendants will not
be prejudiced if the pretrial activity in the case proceeds
as scheduled. (Resp. at 4.) In short, Plaintiffs argue that
there is little risk of Defendants undertaking duplicative
work because discovery in this case has not yet begun and the
consolidated cases in California may settle. (Id. at
4-5.) The parties have imminent deadlines in this case: the
Rule 26(f) conference deadline is July 16, 2019; the initial
disclosures deadline is July 29, 2019; and the combined joint
status report and discovery plan is due August 6, 2019.
(See 4/26/19 Order at 2.) Even if, as Defendants
anticipate, the JPML hears argument on the MDL Motion on July
25, 2019 (Mot. at 4), it is possible that the JPML will not
rule on the MDL Motion until after the above-stated deadlines
have passed. “JPML proceedings and the JPML transfer
process are designed to eliminate duplication in discovery,
avoid conflicting rulings and schedules, reduce litigation
cost, and save the time and effort of the parties, the
attorneys, the witnesses, and the courts.” Sterling
Int'l Consulting Grp. v. Lenovo (U.S.) Inc., No.
5:15-CV-00807-RMW, 2015 WL 12864198, at *1 (N.D. Cal. May 12,
2015). Courts in the Ninth Circuit have found that requiring
parties to comply with their Rule 26(f) and initial
disclosures obligations “before the JPML decision would
be prejudicial given that the contours of the case may change
following consolidation and transfer.” Id.
This factor therefore weighs in favor of granting a stay.
Plaintiffs claim that they will be prejudiced by a stay
because their claims are “time-sensitive.” (Resp.
at 5-7.) In particular, Plaintiffs claim that they allege
design and manufacturing defects that can cause vehicles
“to suddenly stall at speed or to burst into
flames.” (Id. at 6.) Defendants argue that,
especially considering the voluntary recalls that
Plaintiffs' vehicles are subject to, a brief stay of two
to three months will not be prejudicial. (Reply at 5-6.) The
court concludes that Plaintiffs have articulated that a stay
could potentially prejudice them, although the prejudice is
minimal considering the short duration of the stay.
two of the three factors weigh in favor of granting a stay,
including the “most important factor” of saving
judicial resources and avoiding duplicative litigation.
Stuart, 2008 WL 11388470, at *3; see also
Rivers, 980 F.Supp. at 1360. Accordingly, the court
GRANTS Defendants' motion (Dkt. # 29) and STAYS this
matter, including Defendants' pending motion to dismiss
(Dkt. # 37), until the JPML issues its decision on the MDL
Motion. The court further ORDERS the parties to file a joint
status report with the court within 10 days of the date of
the JPML's decision on the MDL Motion. If the JPML denies
the MDL Motion, the court will reset any case deadlines that
have not passed as of the date of this order.