Houck v. No Named Defendants
ORDER denying 121 Motion to Stay by Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya on 5/16/2017. (jgonz, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya
Civil Action No. 15–cv–00894–KMT
DR. THOMAS KRAUS,
DR. EVA MALANOWSKI, and
KRISTEN KRUEGER (FORMERLY LONG),
This matter is before the court on Plaintiff’s “Request for a Stay of Proceedings.” (Doc.
No. 121.) Plaintiff, appearing pro se, requests the court stay proceedings for eleven months
because he is about to be transferred to a Residential Reentry Center (“RRC”) for that period of
time and is concerned he will be unable to devote the time necessary to this litigation.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for a stay of proceedings.
See String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc., 02-CV-01934-LTB-PA, 2006 WL
894955, at *2 (D. Colo. March 30, 2006). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 does, however,
[a] party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective
order in the court where the action is pending. . . . The court may, for good cause,
issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense. . . .
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a).
A motion to stay discovery is an appropriate exercise of this court’s discretion. Landis v.
N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-255 (1936). “The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the
power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy
of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. How this can best be done calls for the
exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance.” Id.
(citing Kansas City S. Ry. Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 760, 763 (1931)).
The underlying principle in determination of whether to grant or deny a stay clearly is
that “[t]he right to proceed in court should not be denied except under the most extreme
circumstances.” Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Chilcott Portfolio Mgmt., Inc., 713
F.2d 1477, 1484 (10th Cir. 1983) (quoting Klein v. Adams & Peck, 436 F.2d 337, 339 (2d Cir.
1971)). In other words, stays of the normal proceedings of a court matter should be the
exception rather than the rule. As a result, stays of all discovery are generally disfavored in this
District. Chavez v. Young Am. Ins. Co., No. 06-cv-02419-PSF-BNB, 2007 WL 683973, at *2 (D.
Colo. Mar. 2, 2007) (citation omitted).
Nevertheless, “a court may decide that in a particular case it would be wise to stay
discovery on the merits until [certain challenges] have been resolved.” 8A Charles Alan Wright,
Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice And Procedure § 2040, at 198 (3d ed.
2010). Courts have routinely recognized that discovery may be inappropriate while issues of
immunity or jurisdiction are being resolved. See, e.g., Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 231-32
(1991) (noting that immunity is a threshold issue and discovery should not be allowed while the
issue is pending); Workman v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 332, 336 (10th Cir. 1992) (same); Democratic
Republic of Congo v. FG Hemisphere Assocs., LLC, 508 F.3d 1062, 1064 (D.C. Cir. 2007)
(noting that the reason jurisdictional defenses should be raised at the outset is to avoid
unnecessary litigation); Gilbert v. Ferry, 401 F.3d 411, 415-16 (6th Cir. 2005) (finding stay
permissible pending ruling on a dispositive motion asserting a jurisdictional issue).
When considering a stay of discovery, this court has considered the following factors: (1)
the plaintiff’s interests in proceeding expeditiously with the civil action and the potential
prejudice to plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the defendants; (3) the convenience to the
court; (4) the interests of persons not parties to the civil litigation; and (5) the public interest.
String Cheese Incident, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (citing FDIC v. Renda, No. 85-2216-O, 1987
WL 348635, at *2 (D. Kan. Aug. 6, 1987)). The court finds these factors do not commend a stay
of this matter.
While the first consideration is negated by the fact it is Plaintiff requesting a stay, the
court notes Defendants have an interest in proceeding expeditiously and an eleven month stay
significantly delays their attempt to clear their names and be free of pending litigation. The court
is sympathetic to Plaintiff’s circumstances in which he will have many responsibilities during his
time in the RRS, as outlined in his Motion. However, a party facing significant responsibilities
and obligations outside of his litigation is not unique to Plaintiff. Granting a stay under such
circumstances would suggest that a stay is appropriate in nearly every lawsuit initiated in this
court. This result would not only be contrary to the disfavored status of stays in this district, see
Bustos v. U.S., 257 F.R.D. 617, 623 (D. Colo. 2009), but would also make the court’s docket
thoroughly unpredictable and, hence, unmanageable. Sanaah v. Howell, 08–cv–02117–REB–
KLM, 2009 WL 980383, at *1 (D. Colo. Apr. 9, 2009). Moreover, there are five months of
discovery remaining in this case, thus providing a significant amount of time for the parties to
complete the same.
Finally, neither the interests of nonparties nor the public interest in general prompts the
court to reach a different result. Indeed, the public interest favors the prompt and efficient
handling of all litigation. Sanaah, 2009 WL 980383, at *1. Accordingly, on balance, the court
finds that a stay of this case is unwarranted.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s “Request for a Stay of Proceedings” (Doc. No. 121) is
Dated May 16, 2017.
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