The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE
This is an action for breach of contract by an American corporation inter alia against the government and the state of Iran. After the complaint was filed, Iran filed a motion before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking the transfer of this case and 158 others to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for consolidated or coordinated pretrial proceedings. Shortly thereafter, defendants moved to stay the proceedings here pending the decision of the Judicial Panel, the United States supported the stay application, and this Court granted the motion.
Basic to defendant's motion is the proposition that a stay is warranted because as a consequence of the President's order banning travel between the United States and Iran,
counsel are precluded from obtaining the factual information necessary to formulate an appropriate defense in this action.
that the "ban on travel does not prevent counsel and their clients from meeting in countries other than Iran or the United States." They do argue, however, that Iran's "political organizations, such as the ministries and the military establishment, cannot leave Iran in order to meet with and assist counsel because of the political responsibilities they discharge."
The Court does not regard this as an adequate basis for a stay, for several reasons.
First, there is no sworn evidence that counsel are unable to secure the information necessary for a defense either because of the closing of the Iranian embassy here or because of the ban on travel to Iran.
Second, it is for the Iranian authorities to decide whether, in defense of this or any other lawsuit brought in the courts of the United States, they desire to have some of their governmental or other personnel meet with their counsel in appropriate locations to discuss the details of that defense.
Defendants here, as defendants in all cases, are entitled to a reasonable period of time during which to prepare, and in view of the geographical distance and possible communications problems, it may be that more time should be allowed than would be true in more normal circumstances. But there is no warrant for an indefinite stay
of the proceedings in lawsuits against Iran simply because the Iranian governmental authorities do not regard it as expedient to confer with their counsel at this time.
Third, the power to stay proceedings is equitable in nature, and it is designed to foster the interests of judicial administration
and those of the litigants before the Court.
In the exercise of this discretionary power the Court appropriately takes into account any prejudicial effect the grant or denial of a stay would have on the parties.
An indefinite stay would severely prejudice the plaintiff which appears to be wholly blameless with respect to the present difficulty; and it would benefit defendants
who are not.
For the reasons stated, it is this 17th day of June, 1980,
ORDERED That the motions for stay of proceedings filed by the Government and State of Iran be and ...