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Coastal Counties Workforce Inc. v. Lepage

United States District Court, D. Maine

January 24, 2018

COASTAL COUNTIES WORKFORCE, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL R. LEPAGE, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO STAY

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         A local workforce training organization, Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. (CCWI), claims Maine Governor Paul R. LePage and the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL), John Butera, (Defendants) failed to make funds available to it in a manner and time frame that federal law requires. The Court denied the Defendants' motion to dismiss and granted CCWI's motion for a preliminary injunction. The Defendants now move to stay the Court's injunction pending an interlocutory appeal. Concluding that the Defendants' likelihood of success on appeal is modest and that the likely harm to CCWI outweighs the likely harm to the Defendants, the Court denies the Defendants' motion for stay pending appeal.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in 2014. Pub. L. No. 113-128, 128 Stat. 1425 (2014) codified at 29 U.S.C. 3101 et seq. The Act authorizes appropriations of federal funds for state workforce development systems. Id. §§ 3101, 3275. In order to receive the federal funds, a state's governor creates a state workforce development board and adopts a state plan. Id. §§ 3111-12. A governor must designate local areas within the state, managed by local workforce development boards pursuant to a local plan, which then oversee the operation of centers and enroll participants in training programs. Id. § 3121-23. CCWI is the entity designated to oversee the workforce training system in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Waldo, and Knox Counties. Stipulations of Facts ¶¶ 9-13 (ECF No. 32) (Stipulations).

         The statute requires the “prompt allocation of funds” at each level of administration. Id. § 3242. All funds the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor allots to the states “shall be allotted within 45 days after the date of enactment of the Act appropriating the funds.” Id. § 3242(c). The funds a governor is required to allot to the local area “shall be made available . . . for a local area not later than 30 days after the date the funds are made available” to the governor “or 7 days after the date the local plan for the area is approved, whichever is later.” Id. § 3242(e).

         CCWI filed this lawsuit based on a conflict with the Defendants, in which the Defendants conditioned the Program Year 2017 (PY17) funds on CCWI's submitting a budget that would meet a new sixty-percent training expenditure requirement. Stipulations ¶ 25-26.

         B. Procedural History

         On October 24, 2017, CCWI filed a complaint and a motion for temporary restraining order (TRO). Compl. (ECF No. 1); Pl.'s Mot. for a TRO (ECF No. 3). On October 30 and November 9, 2017, the Court held telephone status conferences with the parties. Min. Entry for Telephone Conference (ECF No. 7); Min. Entry for Telephone Conference (ECF No. 12). The Defendants agreed to make certain funds available to CCWI for Program Year 2016 (PY16), but the parties did not fully resolve the lawsuit, with funds for Program Year 2017 (PY17) still contested. With some of the urgency removed, counsel for CCWI agreed to pursue a preliminary injunction, rather than a TRO. Accordingly, the Court dismissed CCWI's motion for a TRO without prejudice on the same day. Order (ECF No. 13).

         On November 17, 2017, CCWI filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. Pl.'s Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 16). Defendants responded on December 6, 2017, and CCWI replied on December 14, 2017. Defs. Paul R. Lepage and John Butera's Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for a Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 24); Pl.'s Reply Mem. of Law in Support of Mot. for Prelim. Inj. (ECF No. 35). Also on November 17, 2017, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Defs. Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 17). CCWI responded on November 29, 2017, and the Defendants replied on December 4, 2017. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 20); Defs. Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Reply Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss (ECF No. 23). On December 18, 2017, the Court held an evidentiary hearing and heard oral arguments at the close of the hearing. Min. Entry for Hr'g (ECF No. 39).

         On January 3, 2018, the Court issued an order denying Defendant's motion to dismiss and indicating that it intended to grant CCWI's motion for a preliminary injunction. Order on Mot. to Dismiss and Mot. for Prel. Inj. (ECF No. 42). The Court instructed the parties to submit proposed language for an injunction order. Id. at 63-64. On January 10, 2018, the Court held a telephone conference with counsel to discuss their proposed language. Min. Entry for Telephone Conference (ECF No. 44).

         On January 11, 2018, the Court issued the preliminary injunction. Order on Pl.'s Req. for Injunctive Relief (ECF No. 45) (Prelim. Inj.). Later that same day, the Defendants filed a notice of interlocutory appeal and a motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending the outcome of that appeal. Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 46); Defs.' Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Mot. for Stay Pending Appeal (ECF No. 47) (Defs.' Mot.). On January 18, 2018, CCWI filed its response in opposition. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Stay Pending Appeal (ECF No. 51) (Pl.'s Opp'n). On January 22, 2018, the Defendants filed their reply. Defs.' Paul R. LePage and John Butera's Reply Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Stay Pending Appeal (ECF No. 52) (Defs.' Reply).

         II. DISCUSSION

         Rule 62(a) clarifies that unless a court orders otherwise, an interlocutory injunction is not stayed pending appeal. ...


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