United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division
THOMAS R. HOWELL, Plaintiff
TOWN OF BALL, ET AL., MAGISTRATE JUDGE PEREZ-MONTES Defendants
H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the
Verdict (Remittitur), For New Trial, to Amend or Alter
Judgment, or Alternatively, Motion to Stay Proceedings to
Enforce Judgment and/or Motion for Stay and to Dispense with
Supersedeas Bond (the “Post-Trial Motion”) (Doc.
252) filed by Defendant the Town of Ball (the
last two requests for relief - for a stay or to dispense with
the Supersedeas Bond - are addressed here. The remaining
portions of the Post-Trial Motion will be addressed by
September 8, 2017, following a four-day trial, a jury
returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, Thomas R. Howell
(“Howell”), awarding Howell damages in the amount
of $257, 419.00 plus interest and attorney's fees.
Post-trial motions - including the instant Post-Trial Motion
Post-Trial Motion, the Town has requested various forms of
relief, including a stay of proceedings to enforce the
judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 62(b) and a request to dispense
with the supersedeas bond requirement. Also pending are the
Town's requests for a judgment notwithstanding the
verdict (Doc. 252); the Town's request for a new trial
(Doc. 252); the Town's motion to alter or amend the
judgment (Doc. 252); and Howell's Motion for
Attorney's Fees (Doc. 255)
Law and Analysis
The Town's Motion for a Stay of Proceedings to
Enforce a Judgment should be granted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 62(b), “the court may stay the execution
of a judgment-- or any proceedings to enforce it--pending
disposition of any of the following motions:(1) under Rule
50, for judgment as a matter of law; (2) under Rule 52(b), to
amend the findings or for additional findings; (3) under Rule
59, for a new trial or to alter or amend a judgment; or (4)
under Rule 60, for relief from a judgment or order.”
This stay is not automatic; a court has discretion to
determine whether a Rule 62(b) stay is appropriate. See
Sanders v. Louisiana Div. of Admin., CIV.A.
07-00375-BAJ, 2013 WL 4895015, at *2-3 (M.D. La. Sept. 11,
2013), aff'd (Dec. 30, 2013), aff'd (Dec. 30, 2013).
In exercising that discretion, a court may consider the
(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.
Moore v. Tangipahoa Par. Sch. Bd., 507 Fed.Appx.
389, 392 (5th Cir. 2013).
general circumstances of this case favor a Rule 62(b) stay.
Both parties have filed substantive post-trial motions.
See Roman v. W. Mfg., Inc., 6:07-CV-1516, 2010 WL
4364164, at *1 (W.D. La. Oct. 27, 2010) (finding a stay
appropriate where both parties filed post-trial motions for
judgment as a matter of law). The Town's motions under
Rules 50 and 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure -
both rules referenced in Rule 60(b) - may affect the amount
of damages awarded. And Howell's motion for
attorney's fees will also increase the total amount of
the judgment. Resolution of these motions is warranted, if
not necessary, before any further steps are taken to execute
the judgment. U.S. ex rel. Garibaldi v. Orleans Par. Sch.
Bd., CIV.A. 96-0464, 1998 WL 774172, at *1 (E.D. La.
Oct. 30, 1998) (“Because post-trial motions have been
filed and will be filed, the court finds that granting a stay
of execution of the judgment would be appropriate pending
the balance of relevant factors militates in favor of a stay.
As to the first factor - likelihood of success on the merits
- the Town correctly notes that “the appellant 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.” Arnold v. Garlock, Inc., 278 F.3d
426, 439 (5th Cir. 2001). This case presents “serious
legal questions” which were disputed by the parties and
resolved by the Court. Before and during the trial, the Town
made the requisite showing of a “substantial
case” as to those disputed questions, as evidenced by
the extensive briefing and arguments submitted by the
parties, and the extensive analysis undertaken by the Court.
the Town may suffer irreparable injury absent a stay. Again,
the pending motions may affect the viability and value of the
judgment against the Town. And as the Town argues, any effort
to execute on the judgment during the pendency of those
motions may lead to the expenditure of public funds. The
motions should be resolved before execution.
Howell will not suffer “substantial injury”
during the pendency of a stay, particularly if the Town
furnishes security, as addressed below. Like the Town, Howell
has an interest in obtaining rulings regarding the jury's
verdict and the amount of attorney's fees owed. Neither
Howell's rights nor his financial interests will be
jeopardized during a stay.
the public interest favors resolution of the disputed legal
issues. Once again, at least some public funds are at issue.
Expenditure of those funds during the pendency of substantive