Banks v. Colorado Dept. of Corrections et al
ORDER granting 50 Motion to Stay Discovery, by Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix on 11/24/2014. ORDERED that all discovery is STAYED pending resolution of Defendants Motion to Dismiss [#37].(slibi, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 13-cv-02599-KLM
TORREY V. BANKS,
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS,
A. MEDINA, Warden at FCF,
R. WAGNER, Assistant Warden at FCF,
STEPHANIE ENGLAR, FCF Mental Health Counselor,
JERRI SCOLLARD, Acting FCF Mental Health Supervisor,
C. SOARES, Assistant Warden at CSP,
CAPTAIN ARGUELLO, CSP Mail Room Supervisor,
C/O MALEBRANCHE, and
ENTERED BY MAGISTRATE JUDGE KRISTEN L. MIX
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Stay Discovery [#50]1
(the “Motion”). Plaintiff has not filed a response and his deadline to do so has elapsed.
Defendants ask the Court to stay discovery in this case pending resolution of their Motion
to Dismiss [#37] (the “Motion to Dismiss”). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion
[#50] is GRANTED.
“[#50]” 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.
Although a 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) (“A stay of all discovery is generally disfavored in this District.” (citation omitted));
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)). Further, in their pending Motion to
Dismiss [#37], Defendants assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity. See Motion
to Dismiss [#37] at 28-29.
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. See id. at 308, 310 (1996) (noting that discovery can be
particularly disruptive when a dispositive motion regarding immunity is pending); Mitchell
v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985) (“the qualified immunity doctrine is [designed] . . . to
permit the resolution of many insubstantial claims on summary judgment and to avoid
subjecting government officials either to the costs of trial or to the burdens of broadreaching discovery . . . .”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); 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)). Qualified
immunity “is [designed] . . . to permit the resolution of many insubstantial claims on
summary judgment and to avoid subjecting government officials either to the costs of trial
or to the burdens of broad-reaching discovery . . . .”
Mitchell, 472 U.S. at 526. “The
entitlement is an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability; and like an
absolute immunity, it is effectively lost if a case is erroneously permitted to go to trial.” Id.
(emphasis in original). Accordingly, an order denying qualified immunity is immediately
appealable. Id. at 527. 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).
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, Plaintiff did not respond to the Motion and, therefore, it is unclear
whether a stay would prejudice Plaintiff. Without a response from Plaintiff, the Court
cannot assume either that Plaintiff will be prejudiced by a stay or that a stay will not
prejudice Plaintiff. Therefore, the Court finds that the first String Cheese Incident factor
does not weigh in favor or 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, it is certainly more convenient for the Court to enter a stay
until it is clear which claims, if any, will move forward. The Court therefore finds that the
third String Cheese Incident factor weighs in favor of 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 wasteful efforts
by the Court and litigants serves this interest. Thus, the fifth String Cheese Incident factor
weighs in favor of a stay.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion [#50] is GRANTED. Accordingly,
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all discovery is STAYED pending resolution of
Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [#37].
Dated: November 24, 2014
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