Lindhurst v. United States Social Security Administration
ORDER; Defendant's 9 Unopposed Motion to Vacate Scheduling Conference and Stay Discovery is GRANTED. Accordingly, it is further ORDERED that all disclosure and discovery is STAYED pending a resolution of the MOTION to Dismiss 8 . The Scheduling Conference set for 1/7/2013 at 9:30 a.m. is VACATED. If necessary, a new scheduling conference will be set upon resolution of the Motion to Dismiss 8 , by Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix on 10/31/2012.(klmcd, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 12-cv-02450-CMA-KLM
USA, Social Security Administration,
ENTERED BY MAGISTRATE JUDGE KRISTEN L. MIX
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Unopposed Motion to Vacate
Scheduling Conference and Stay Discovery [Docket No. 9; Filed October 26, 2012] (the
Although the stay of proceedings in a case is generally disfavored, the Court has
discretion to stay discovery while a dispositive motion is pending. See Wason Ranch Corp.
v. Hecla Mining Co., No. 07-cv-00267-EWN-MEH, 2007 WL 1655362, at *1 (D. Colo. June
6, 2007) (unreported decision) (“A stay of all discovery is generally disfavored in this
District.” (citation omitted)); String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 1:02-cv01934-LTB-PAC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 30, 2006) (unreported decision)
(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) (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 ordering a stay of 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)). Questions of jurisdiction should be resolved at the earliest stages of litigation,
so as to conserve the time and resources of the Court and the parties. Thus, a stay of
discovery during the pendency of a dispositive motion asserting a jurisdictional challenge
may be appropriate and efficient. See Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 308 & 310
(1996) (noting that discovery can be particularly disruptive when a dispositive motion
regarding immunity is pending); Moore v. Busby, 92 F. App'x 699, 702 (10th Cir. 2004)
(affirming trial court's stay of discovery pending resolution of absolute immunity question);
Albright v. Rodriguez, 51 F.3d 1531, 1534 (10th Cir. 1995) (“the Supreme Court has
repeatedly ‘stressed the importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest possible
stage in litigation.’” (citation omitted)).
In the context of a qualified immunity defense, the Court is obligated to “exercise its
discretion so that officials [properly asserting qualified immunity] are not subjected to
unnecessary and burdensome discovery or trial proceedings.” Crawford-El v. Britton, 523
U.S. 574, 597-98 (1998). Here, Defendant does not assert qualified immunity, but raises
sovereign immunity as a complete defense to Plaintiff’s claims. Defendant premises its
sovereign immunity defense on the contention that it has not waived its sovereign immunity
for claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Motion [#9] at 2.
The Tenth Circuit has opined that there is “no logical reason why [the rule precluding
discovery before the resolution of a qualified immunity question] should not apply where
the defendant raises the defense of sovereign immunity and the defense is primarily one
of law.” Liverman v. Comm. on the Judiciary, 51 F. App’x 825, 827-28 (10th Cir. 2002)
(referring to Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 231 (1991)). As stated above, Defendant
raises sovereign immunity as a jurisdictional challenge in the motion to dismiss, and its
defense is primarily one of law. Thus, the Court concludes that it must exercise its
discretion in favor of not subjecting Defendant to possibly unnecessary discovery or other
pretrial proceedings, until the immunity and jurisdictional questions are resolved.
Consideration of the factors guiding the Court’s evaluation of a request for a stay as
stated in String Cheese Incident, LLC prompts no different result. The factors for the
Court’s review include: (1) the interest of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously with
discovery and the potential prejudice to the plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the
defendants of proceeding with discovery; (3) the convenience to the Court of staying
discovery; (4) the interests of nonparties in either staying or proceeding with discovery; and
(5) the public interest in either staying or proceeding with discovery. String Cheese
Incident, 2006 WL 894955 at *2 (citation omitted).
Considering Plaintiff’s interest first, Plaintiff has not opposed entry of a stay in this
matter. Thus, Plaintiff is willing to forego discovery and apparently feels that a stay will not
Under these circumstances, proceeding with discovery could be
burdensome to Defendant. Accordingly, the first two factors favor entry of a stay.
The third factor concerning the convenience to the Court weighs heavily in favor of
a stay. The motion to dismiss not only challenges this Court’s subject matter jurisdiction
which must be satisfied at all stages of a litigation, but also could dispose of the complaint
in its entirety.1 Judicial resources would best be conserved by imposing a stay until the
jurisdictional challenge is resolved. Consideration of the fourth and fifth factors does not
sway the Court from its conclusion. Weighing these factors in light of the law favoring a
stay of discovery when sovereign immunity and subject matter jurisdiction are at issue, the
Court concludes that a stay of discovery is appropriate, pending the District Court’s
adjudication of Defendant’s motion to dismiss.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion [#9] is GRANTED. Accordingly,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all disclosure and discovery is STAYED pending
resolution of the Motion to Dismiss [#8].
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Scheduling Conference set for January 7, 2013
at 9:30 a.m. is VACATED. If necessary, a new scheduling conference will be set upon
resolution of the Motion to Dismiss.
The Court finds it significant that Defendant filed its motion to dismiss and motion to stay
quite early in the litigation and before the entry of a scheduling order.
DATED: October 31, 2012 at Denver, Colorado.
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