United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court are defendant Fresh Market, Inc.'s
(“Fresh Market”) motion to stay proceedings or,
in the alternative, for enlargement of time to respond to
plaintiff's amended complaint (Rec. Doc. 16),
plaintiff's opposition memorandum (Rec. Doc. 19), and
Fresh Market, Inc.'s reply (Rec. Doc. 23). Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that the motion to stay is
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
is a resident of Palm Beach County, Florida. See
Rec. Doc. 1 at 1. Fresh Market is a corporation with its
registered office located at 1070-B West Causeway Approach,
Mandeville, Louisiana. See id. Plaintiff brings his
claims under Title III Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) for alleged barriers to access Fresh
Market stores. See Rec. Doc. 16 at 1.
has instituted similar litigation against several Fresh
Market locations throughout the country, primarily in
Florida. See id. Each time the parties have
successfully entered a confidential settlement agreement to
resolved plaintiff's claims. See id.
Specifcally, on or around October 15, 2018, plaintiff entered
multiple settlement agreements. See Rec. Doc. 23 at
1. Several of the settlement agreements contain a provision
in which plaintiff agrees to provide Fresh Market with notice
of any alleged ADA compliance issues at any of its stores and
allow Fresh Market 60 days to cure any deficiencies.
See Rec. Doc. 16 at 1-2. Such notice constitutes a
condition precedent to plaintiff filing a lawsuit. See
id. at 2.
September 24, 2018, plaintiff filed a complaint for
declaratory and injunctive relief highlighting architectural
barriers at the Fresh Market store in Baton Rouge.
See Rec. Doc. 1. In November 2018, Fresh Market
notified counsel for plaintiff that it had addressed all
purported noncompliance and requested that the instant case
be dismissed. See Rec. Doc. 19 at 2. In December
2018, plaintiff states that he went to the Fresh Market store
in Baton Rouge to investigate the remediation. See
id. He encounter several remaining barriers. See
id. Around that same time, plaintiff visited two other
Fresh Market stores. See id. He encountered
architectural barriers similar to the ones he encountered at
the Fresh Market store in Baton Rouge. See id. On
February 13, 2019, plaintiff filed an amended complaint
highlighting the remaining architectural barriers at the
Fresh Market store in Baton Rouge as well as the newly
discovered architectural barriers at the Fresh Market stores
in New Orleans and Metairie. See Rec. Doc. 13.
March 15, 2019, Fresh Market filed a motion to stay
proceedings, or, in the alternative, for enlargement of time
to respond to plaintiff's amended complaint. See
Rec. Doc. 16. On April 1, 2019, plaintiff filed an opposition
memorandum. See Rec. Doc. 19. On April 15, 2019,
Fresh Market filed a reply. See Rec. Doc. 23.
courts have inherent authority 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). This
includes the power to stay proceedings “in the control
of its docket and in the interests of justice.” See
In re Beebe, 56 F.3d 1384 (5th Cir. 1995). To establish
whether to grant a motion to stay, the Court considers three
factors: (1) hardship to the moving party if the action
proceeds, (2) prejudice to the non-moving party if the stay
is granted, and (3) the interests of judicial economy.
See Magana v. Shore Constr., LLC, No. 17-1896, 2017
WL 2911353, at *3 (E.D. La. July 6, 2017); E. Cornell
Malone Corp. v. Cont'l Cas. Co., No. 13-6807, 2015
WL 222334, at *2 (E.D. La. Jan. 14, 2015); Marine Power
Holding, LLC v. Malibu Boats, LLC, No. 14-2065, 2014 WL
7139643, at *1 (E.D. La. Dec. 15, 2014). The Court will now
analyze each factor to establish whether the facts weigh in
favor of granting a stay.
as to hardship to Fresh Market if this action proceeds, the
Court finds that this factor weighs in favor of granting a
stay. Fresh Market argues that if this action proceeds, it
would be forced to incur additional, unnecessary litigation
costs and attorneys' fees in defending a premature claim.
See Rec. Doc. 16 at 5. The claim at issue would
appear to effectively re-write the terms of the parties'
settlement agreement that obligates plaintiff to give Fresh
Market written notice and 60 days to cure purported
barriers. See id. at 4.
after filing his original complaint regarding the Fresh
Market store in Baton Rouge, plaintiff entered into multiple
settlement agreements obligating him to give notice to Fresh
Market and allow it 60 days to cure the purported barriers at
any other Fresh Market locations. See Rec. Doc. 16-2
at 4. Fresh Market began repairs at the Fresh Market store in
Baton Rouge. See Rec. Doc. 23 at 5. Plaintiff then
amended his complaint to include other Fresh Market stores.
See Rec. Doc. 19 at 3. Despite the settlement
agreements being in place, with the Fresh Market stores in
New Orleans and Metairie, plaintiff failed to give notice to
Fresh Market and allow it 60 days to cure the purported
barriers as provided in the Settlement Agreement.
See Rec. Doc. 16-2 at 4. While plaintiff argues that
Fresh Market consented to the filing of the amended
complaint, Fresh Market claims that it consented procedurally
only and reserved its defenses. See Rec. Doc. 23 at
3. There appears to be a resolvable breach of the settlement
agreement and proceeding with premature claims would cause
avoidable hardship. See Hanover Ins. Co. v.
Plaquemines Parish Gov't, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
91945 *1, *25 (E.D. La. 2015)(stating that if a provision
within an agreement is clear and unambiguous, “the
letter of the [provision] should not be disregarded under the
pretext of pursuing its spirit, as it is not the duty of the
courts to bend the meaning of the words of a contract into
harmony with a supposed reasonable intention of the
as to prejudice to plaintiff if stay is granted, the Court
finds that this factor weighs in favor of granting a stay.
Plaintiff only states that granting the motion to stay would
impact the parties' ability to comply with the discovery
deadlines. See Rec. Doc. 19 at 6. Plaintiff offers
no other allegations to support his position that staying the
case will prejudice him. In fact, plaintiff, as a resident of
Palm Beach County, Florida, lives hundreds of miles from the
purported barriers at the three Fresh Market stores at issue.
See Rec. Doc. 1 at 1. Accordingly, plaintiff is not
likely to suffer prejudice if the instant motion to stay is
as to the interests of judicial economy, the Court finds that
this factor weighs in favor of granting a stay. With notice
and reasonable time for Fresh Market to cure the purported
barriers, the instant claims as well as the claims concerning
the Fresh Market Store in Baton Rouge are likely to be moot.
Briefly delaying this action would promote economy of time
and effort as it would be a great waste of the everyone's
time and resources to prematurely proceed with the instant
matter only to have the issues resolved and rendered moot.
See Maples v. Donzinger, No. 13-223, 2014 WL 688965,
at *2 (E.D. La. 2014) citing to Landis, 299 U.S. at 254.
each factor weighs in favor of granting a stay. Accordingly,
the motion to stay is granted, staying this action for 60
days from the date of this order. Plaintiff's claims are
limited to the those alleged in his amended complaint. While
unnecessary, parties may confer with each other and prepare