Last week, Judge Rakoff denied a request from the defendants in a group of Petrobras securities cases to stay a September trial date pending the Second Circuit’s consideration of an interlocutory appeal of class certification. The defendants argued that the Second Circuit appeal was on an expedited schedule, and that significant expense could be saved in the event the case had to be re-tried. The plaintiffs opposed the stay, arguing that a delay amid Brazilian political upheaval (including issues of Petrobras’ viability) would only serve to prejudice the plaintiffs.
Judge Rakoff agreed with the plaintiffs, noting that “it is notorious that the bane of the American legal process is expensive, dispiriting, undue delay[.]” Judge Rakoff found that the class action was just one of many cases being tried together, which weighed against staying all cases on account of the Rule 23 issue alone (interlocutory appeal of which, he cautioned, was never meant as a device to stay litigation). Finally, Judge Rakoff was persuaded by the effort already undertaken to schedule the trial:
The Court has set aside a full two months to try this consolidated group of 28 complicated cases. It was not an easy matter for this judge, who, though on senior status, continues to take a full load of cases, to free up that amount of time. The schedule, moreover, was set in consultation with the parties, all of whom are represented by busy counsel who would have their own scheduling issues if a new trial date had to be set at some uncertain time in the future. More broadly, the public interest is served by the speedy and effective administration on justice, not least in cases of such obvious public interest as this one. The stay here sought would indefinitely delay the consolidated trial of 28 significant cases, only one of which is a class action, and would thereby not only do egregious harm to the ability of this or any other district court to manage its docket in such complex circumstances but would also disserve the strong public interest in the speedy and effective administration of justice.
Our prior coverage of the case is here.