Patterson v. Santini et al
ORDER denying 89 Motion to Stay. Scheduling Conference is now set for 2/12/2014, 10:00 AM in Courtroom C204 before Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix. By Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix on 1/31/2014.(trlee, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 11-cv-01899-RM-KLM
GERALD LEE PATTERSON,
GEORGE SANTINI, M.D.,
CAMACHO, P.A., and
FIVE JOHN/JANE DOES,
ENTERED BY MAGISTRATE JUDGE KRISTEN L. MIX
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Renewed Motion to Stay [#89]1
Although a stay of proceedings in a case is generally disfavored, the Court has
discretion to stay discovery. Compare Wason Ranch Corp. v. Hecla Mining Co., No. 07-cv00267-EWN-MEH, 2007 WL 1655362, at *1 (D. Colo. June 6, 2007) (“A stay of all
discovery is generally disfavored in this District.” (citation omitted)); with Ellis v. J.R.’s
Country Stores, Inc., No. 12-cv-01916-CMA-KLM, 2012 WL 6153513, at *1 (D. Colo. Dec.
11, 2012) (granting stay of proceedings). Further, “[a] court has inherent power to stay
proceedings ‘to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and
“[#89]” is an example of the convention I use to identify the docket number assigned to
a specific paper by the Court’s case management and electronic case filing system (CM/ECF). I
use this convention throughout this Order.
effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.’” Ellis, 2012 WL 6153513, at *1 (quoting Landis
v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936) (observing that docket management “calls for the
exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even
balance”)); Vivid Techs., Inc. v. Am. Sci. & Eng'g, Inc., 200 F.3d 795, 804 (Fed.Cir.1999)
(“When a particular issue may be dispositive, the court may stay discovery concerning
other issues until the critical issue is resolved.”); Chavous v. D.C. Fin. Responsibility &
Mgmt. Assistance Auth., 201 F.R.D. 1, 2 (D.D.C.2001) (“A stay of discovery pending the
determination of a dispositive motion is an eminently logical means to prevent wasting the
time and effort of all concerned, and to make the most efficient use of judicial resources.”
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted)); see also String Cheese Incident, LLC v.
Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 02-cv-01934-LTB-PAC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 30,
2006) (finding that a thirty day stay of discovery was appropriate when a motion to dismiss
for lack of personal jurisdiction was pending); Nankivil v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 216
F.R.D. 689, 692 (M.D. Fla. 2003) (finding that a stay may be appropriate if “resolution of
a preliminary motion may dispose of the entire action.”); 8 Charles Alan Wright, et al.,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2040, at 521-22 (2d ed. 1994) (“[W]hen one issue may
be determinative of a case, the court has discretion to stay discovery on other issues until
the critical issue has been decided.”); Vivid Techs., Inc. v. Am. Sci. & Eng’g, Inc., 200 F.3d
795, 804 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (“When a particular issue may be dispositive, the court may stay
discovery concerning other issues until the critical issue is resolved.”); Gilbert v. Ferry, 401
F.3d 411, 415-16 (6th Cir. 2005) (finding that staying discovery is not an abuse of discretion
when a defendant has filed a motion to dismiss challenging the court’s actual subject matter
jurisdiction); Chavous v. D.C. Fin. Responsibility & Mgmt. Assistance Auth., 201 F.R.D. 1,
2 (D.D.C. 2005) (“A stay of discovery pending the determination of a dispositive motion is
an eminently logical means to prevent wasting the time and effort of all concerned, and to
make the most efficient use of judicial resources.” (internal quotation omitted)).
In their Motion [#89], Defendants argue that because they assert in their Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint (Doc. 27) [#45] (the “Motion to Dismiss”) that they are entitled
to qualified immunity, a stay is warranted. See Motion [#89] at 2-3. Qualified immunity
“give[s] government officials a right, not merely to avoid ‘standing trial,’ but also to avoid the
burdens of ‘such pretrial matters as discovery . . . .’” Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299,
308 (1996) (citation omitted). Immunity questions should be resolved at the earliest
possible stage of the litigation, thereby avoiding many of the associated burdens and costs.
Albright v. Rodriguez, 51 F.3d 1531, 1534 (10th Cir. 1995). Here, the Court has already
considered Defendants’ arguments regarding qualified immunity and has recommended
that the Motion to Dismiss be denied. See Recommendation [#64] at 15.
When exercising its discretion to enter a stay, the Court considers the following
factors: (1) the interest of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously and the potential
prejudice to the plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the defendant; (3) the convenience
to the Court; (4) the interests of nonparties; and (5) the public interest. String Cheese
Incident, LLC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (citing FDIC v. Renda, No. 85-2216-O, 1987 WL
348635, at *2 (D. Kan. Aug. 6, 1987)).
In this case, staying discovery would prejudice Plaintiff. Plaintiff’s claims relate to
Defendants’ alleged deliberate indifference to his allegedly serious medical problem which
causes him pain and limits his activities. See Am. Compl. [#27] at 4-5. In his Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff notes that “[f]ollowing the filing of this suit, Defendants have finally
submitted Plaintiff for a consult with an orthopedic surgeon; however, said surgeon said
that injections (presumedly [sic] of a steroid) could help manage the pain, but that if
unsuccessful surgery was still an option.” Id. at 4. However, Plaintiff did not receive the
injections because Defendants were not “able to provide the injections.” Id. According to
Plaintiff, this is because “Defendants could not locate a doctor who did those injections.”
Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges that “[o]n April 5, 2012, [he] was informed that the Defendants
would not be able to provide the injections. . . . [and that he] continues to suffer unremitting
and debilitating pain for a condition which has been diagnosed by medical professionals
for more than 15 years.” Id. Defendants argue that “this is not a case where Plaintiff has
not received medical treatment,” Motion [#89] at 6, and attach an exhibit to the Motion
showing that on May 15, 2013, Plaintiff received a “[c]ervical epidural steroid injection.”
See Operative Report [#90] at 3. In the Operative Report, the treating doctor noted that
Plaintiff “was instructed to return in 2 to 3 weeks for the next series of injections if he is still
having any significant discomfort or weakness or numbness . . . .” Id. at 3-4. Defendants
further argue that since Plaintiff received one injection more than eight months ago, “other
reasonable explanations may account for Plaintiff’s continued pain complaints, and the
Court should not allow discovery to eclipse the traditional process for deciding whether
Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity.” Motion [#89] at 6. The Court notes that
Plaintiff initiated this case on July 21, 2011, more than two and a half years ago. See
generally Complaint [#1]. Further, as Defendants admit, he complains of severe pain to this
day. See Motion [#89] at 6 (“Plaintiff’s continued pain complaints . . . .”). Therefore, the
Court finds that there is potential prejudice to Plaintiff if there is further delay of this case.
Accordingly, the first String Cheese Incident factor weighs against a stay.
With regard to the second factor, it appears Defendants will not be burdened by a
stay because they are seeking a stay. The Court therefore finds that the second String
Cheese Incident factor weighs in favor of a stay.
With regard to the third factor, this case was filed in July 2011 and has not moved
forward. It is not convenient for the Court to have stale cases cluttering its docket. The
Court therefore finds that the third String Cheese Incident factor weighs against a stay.
With regard to the fourth factor, there are no nonparties with significant particularized
interests in this case. Accordingly, the fourth String Cheese Incident factor neither weighs
in favor nor against a stay.
With regard to the fifth and final factor, the Court finds that the public’s only interest
in this case is a general interest in its efficient and just resolution. Avoiding prolonged
litigation that does not move forward is in the public’s interest. Thus, the fifth String Cheese
Incident factor weighs against a stay.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion [#89] is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that commencing in February of 2014 the Bureau of
Prisons shall provide the Court with monthly status reports concerning Plaintiff’s ongoing
medical care, due on or before the last day of each month.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Scheduling Conference set for February 4,
2014 at 2:00 p.m. is VACATED and RESET to February 12, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in
Courtroom C-204 of the Byron G. Rogers United States Courthouse, 1929 Stout Street,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the parties shall submit their proposed scheduling
order pursuant to the District of Colorado Electronic Case Filing (“ECF”) Procedures. The
parties shall submit the proposed scheduling order no later than February 10, 2014.
Dated: January 31, 2014
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