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Faciane v. Petrochem Field Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 9, 2019

PAULA FACIANE and MICHAEL FACIANE
v.
PETROCHEM FIELD SERVICES, INC. and STAR INDEMNITY & LIABILITY COMPANY

         SECTION “F”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the defendants' motion to stay execution of judgment pending appeal without security, or in the alternative, motion to set a reasonable supersedeas bond amount. For the reasons that follow, the motion to stay is GRANTED, in part, on the condition that defendants post a supersedeas bond in accordance with the Court's local rules.

         Background This personal injury lawsuit arises from a car accident in which a large passenger van struck the front of a sedan that was traveling through an intersection.

         After a two-day bench trial beginning on April 29, 2019, the Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him $183, 768 in damages.[1] On May 1, 2019, the Court entered a judgment in favor of plaintiff, Michael Faciane, and against defendants, Petrochem Field Services, Inc. and Starr Indemnity and Liability Company. On May 28, 2019, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal.

         The defendants now seek a stay of the Court's May 1, 2019 judgment pending the appeal of that judgment to the Fifth Circuit, as well as a waiver of the security requirement. Alternatively, the defendants request that the Court set a reasonable supersedeas bond amount that takes into account the likelihood that the Fifth Circuit may reduce the plaintiff's award.

         I.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62(b) permits a party seeking to stay the execution of a judgment pending appeal to post a bond or other security to secure the payment of the judgment to the judgment creditor. Rule 62(d) provides:

Stay by Bond or Other Security. At any time after judgment is entered, a party may obtain a stay by providing a bond or other security. The stay takes effect when the court approves the bond or other security and remains in effect for the time specified in the bond or other security.

         The Court notes that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62 was recently amended in 2018. Prior to the 2018 amendment, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62(d) was the provision that permitted an appellant to obtain a stay by posting a supersedeas bond. The new rule is more expansive, allowing “a party” to obtain a stay by providing “a bond or other security.” See Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 62 advisory committee's note to 2018 amendment.[2]

         Generally, “[t]he purpose of a supersedeas bond is to preserve the status quo while protecting the non-appealing party's rights pending appeal.” Poplar Grove Planting & Refining Co. v. Bache Halsey Stuart, Inc., 600 F.2d 1189, 1190-91 (5th Cir. 1979) (interpreting former Rule 62(d) prior the 1987, 2007, 2009, and 2018 amendments). To achieve these competing interests, a full supersedeas bond is usually required. See id.[3]

         A district court, however, has discretion in setting security and may exercise its discretion to waive the security requirement under certain narrow circumstances. See id.; see also Enserch Corp. v. Shand Morahan & Co., Inc., 918 F.2d 462, 464 (5th Cir. 1990). A party seeking to depart from the normal requirement of a full supersedeas bond must “objectively demonstrate the reasons for such a departure.” Poplar Grove, 600 F.2d at 1191. A departure may be warranted where (1) the “judgment debtor objectively demonstrates a present financial ability to facilely respond to a money judgment and presents to the court a financially secure plan for maintaining that same degree of solvency during the period of an appeal, ” or (2) “the judgment debtor's present financial condition is such that the posting of a full bond would impose an undue financial burden.” Id.; see also Olympia Equip. Leasing Co. v. W. Union Tel. Co., 786 F.2d 794, 796 (7th Cir. 1986) (citing Poplar Grove, 600 F.2d at 1191) (noting that reduced security is appropriate if (1) “the defendant's ability to pay the judgment is so plain that the cost of the bond would be a waste of money, ” or (2) “the requirement would put the defendant's other creditors in undue jeopardy”). The Fifth Circuit has also recognized that a “judgment may be suspended without bond when the relief sought by the prevailing party on appeal is inconsistent with enforcement of the lower court's judgment.” Enserch Corp., 918 F.2d at 464.

         II.

         The defendants seek to stay this Court's judgment pending the plaintiff's appeal, as well as a waiver of the security requirement. In the alternative, they urge the Court to set a “reasonable” supersedeas bond amount that takes into account the likelihood that the Fifth Circuit may reduce the plaintiff's award. The plaintiff responds that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62(b) makes clear that the defendants may obtain a stay, provided they post security; he also questions the ...


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