United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
ORDER DENYING STAY
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Dr. Seshadri Raju's Motion to Stay
Proceedings Pending Interlocutory Appeal. Docket No. 14.
Defendant Dr. Erin Murphy opposes a stay. Docket No. 16. For
the reasons below, Dr. Raju's Motion to Stay is DENIED.
Factual and Procedural History
2014, Dr. Raju and Dr. Murphy entered into a Physician
Employment Agreement. Docket No. 3 at 21-22. The Agreement
contained an arbitration clause.
March 2017, Dr. Raju filed this action in the Circuit Court
of Hinds County, Mississippi, alleging several state law
claims. Docket No. 1-1. Dr. Murphy properly removed the
action to this Court in May 2017, pursuant to diversity
jurisdiction. Docket No. 1.
same month, Raju filed a Motion to Compel Arbitration and a
Motion to Stay Proceedings. Docket No. 4. This Court denied
both Motions, finding that Dr. Raju waived the arbitration
clause contained in the Agreement. Raju v. Murphy,
2017 WL 3175911 (S.D.Miss. Jul. 25, 2017). Dr. Raju appealed
that order and now requests that the Court stay all
proceedings until the matter is resolved by the Fifth
Circuit. Docket No. 15 at 1.
is not entitled to an automatic stay of court proceedings
pending appeal from a denial of a motion to compel
arbitration. Weingarten Realty Inv'rs v. Miller,
661 F.3d 904, 907 (5th Cir. 2011). Rather, the decision of
whether to stay a case is within the court's discretion.
Id. In exercising this discretion, a court must
first determine whether the applicant has shown that
“there is a serious legal question involved
and the balance of equities heavily favors a
stay.” Id. at 910 (emphasis added). If the
applicant fails to establish both elements, the court must
consider four factors: “(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 other parties interested in the
proceedings; and (4) whether public interest favors a
stay.” Id. Of these factors, the first two are
the most critical. U.S. v. Transocean Deepwater
Drilling, 537 F. App'x 358, 360 (5th Cir. 2013)
(citing Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434 (2009)).
Fifth Circuit has held that private contractual disputes
“regarding whether arbitration is required” do
not implicate a “substantial legal question.”
Miller, 661 F.3d at 910. Dr. Raju tries to get
around this holding by pointing to an ancillary issue. He
contends that “the Fifth Circuit has not appeared to
make a definitive ruling on what constitutes significant
pre-trial activities.” Docket No. 15 at 7 (quotation
marks omitted). But that is not the point. Private disputes
which “have no far-reaching effects or public
concerns” do not involve a serious legal question.
Wildmon v. Berwick Universal Pictures, 983 F.2d 21,
24 (5th Cir. 1982).
Dr. Raju could demonstrate that this case involves a serious
legal question, he has not met his burden to show that the
balance of equities weighs heavily in his favor, as
discussed below. Therefore, we turn to the four-factor
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
applicant is typically at a disadvantage “because the
district court has already ruled against him.”
Miller, 661 F.3d at 910. That is the case here.
Raju has not offered any persuasive arguments in support of
his position. He argues that he is likely to succeed on the
merits of his appeal because “the pre-litigation
activities alleged . . . are minimal” and did not cause
prejudice to Dr. Murphy. Docket No. 20 at 2. For the reasons
stated in this Court's July 25 Order, see Docket
No. 12 at 3-4, the Court finds that Dr. Raju is ...