Prosecuting a case pro se, in other words on one’s own behalf, can be difficult for a litigant. A pro se plaintiff suing Hershey for an injury he alleged occurred when he bit into a chocolate product that contained a metal item recently sought a stay for a second time. A successful motion to stay would have resulted in the suspension of his lawsuit, without prejudice to his rights. The first time the plaintiff had sought to stay the case, Hershey did not oppose, and the judge issued a stay of proceedings until January 16, 2018, based on the plaintiff’s representation he needed a stay to aid his ailing father. On January 16, 2018, the plaintiff filed a second stay motion, seeking a stay until July 2019. The motion was based on medical, financial, and juridical reasons, and the defendant opposed. After considering the situation, the court denied the second stay motion.
The plaintiff had sued the defendant in state court in Santa Fe County, alleging liability on tort theories including personal injury, product liability, and defective products. The defendant responded to the lawsuit, which was filed on November 3, 2016, by removing it to federal court via a motion filed on September 27, 2017. A few weeks later, the plaintiff sought and achieved a stay. His subsequent stay motion was denied for several reasons.
First, the court articulated the standard it was using, explaining that the party seeking a stay must justify the request by clear and convincing evidence that outweighed the potential harm to the party against which the stay was to be operative. The court concluded that the plaintiff could not show, under this standard, that staying the case until July 2019 outweighed the potential harm to the defendant.