Estate of Timothy Scott Dixon et al v. Board of County Commissioners of Crowley County et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang on 5/9/2017. Plaintiffs' Motion to Reopen 144 is DENIED, and this case remains TERMINATED in accordance with the Final Judgment 137 entered on April 19, 2017; Plaintiffs' Motion for Stay Pending Appeal 145 is DENIED AS MOOT; and Plaintiffs' Corrected Motion for Stay Pending Appeal 147 is DENIED. (nywlc2, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 15-cv-02727-NYW
The ESTATE OF TIMOTHY SCOTT DIXON,
S.A.D., minor child, by and through his guardian and next friend Starla LeRoux, and
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF CROWLEY COUNTY,
CROWLEY COUNTY COLORADO SHERIFFS OFFICE,
MILES CLARK, in his individual capacity,
MARK MORLOCK, in his individual capacity,
JAMES BUTLER, in his individual capacity, and
ALACIA JACOBS, in her individual capacity,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang
This matter comes before the court on three pending motions:
Plaintiffs The Estate of Timothy Scott Dixon, S.A.D., a minor child, and Cody N.
Dixon’s (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Motion to Reopen Case [#144, filed May 8, 2017];
Plaintiffs’ Motion For Stay Pending Appeal [#145, filed May 8, 2017]; and
Plaintiffs’ Corrected Motion For Stay Pending Appeal (the “Corrected Motion to
Stay”) [#147, filed May 9, 2017].
These motions are before the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c) and the Order of Reference dated March 11, 2016 [#62]. This court originally ordered
Defendants to respond to the Motion For Stay Pending Appeal [#145] and Corrected Motion to
Stay [#147] no later than the close of business on May 10, 2017, but having reviewed the
Corrected Motion to Stay, the court has concluded that further briefing and oral argument would
not materially assist in the disposition of the matter and it is in the interests of justice to expedite
Local Rule 7.1(d) provides that a judicial officer may rule on a motion at any time
after it is filed. D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d). Accordingly, after carefully considering the motions
and associated briefing, the entire case file, the applicable case law, the court hereby DENIES
the motions for the reasons stated herein.
The court has discussed in detail this action’s background in previous rulings, see, e.g.,
[#107; #136], and discusses it here only as it pertains to the pending motions. On April 18, 2017,
the court issued its Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Order) granting in part and denying in
part Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment. [#136]. The court held that Defendants
Clark, Butler, and Morlock were entitled to qualified immunity on Claim II, because Plaintiffs
failed to argue the clearly established prong of the qualified immunity analysis—Plaintiffs’
burden on summary judgment, and that the court’s ruling on the motion to dismiss did not excuse
Plaintiffs from addressing that prong of the qualified immunity analysis. [Id. at 20-21]. In
addition, the court held that Plaintiffs failed to create a triable issue of fact as to Claims III, IV,
and V, and entered summary judgment in favor of the County Defendants. [Id. at 22-28].
Lastly, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state-law claims,
Claims VI and VII, given its dismissal of Plaintiffs’ federal law claims. [Id. at 28]. On April 19,
2017, the Clerk of the Court entered Final Judgment in favor of the County Defendants on
Claims II, III, IV, and V, and in favor of the Individual Defendants on Claim II, pursuant to the
court’s Order. See [#137]. The entry of Final Judgment closed this case.
On April 28, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the a Motion to Reconsider, requesting that the court
reconsider and vacate its Order and vacate the Final Judgment, while also denying Defendants’
Motions for Summary Judgment. [#138]. Then, on May 1, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Motion to
Reopen, Motion to Stay, and Motion to Expedite Briefing. See [#139; #140; #141]. Plaintiffs
sought to reopen the case, presumably because the docket now reflects it is “terminated” so that
this court would reconsider its ruling on summary judgment; to stay the execution of the
judgment pending their Motion to Reconsider; and to expedite briefing related to the Motion to
Reconsider. By its Order dated May 3, 2017, the court denied Plaintiffs’ motions. See [#142].
Following the court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ motions, Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal on
May 8, 2017. [#143]. On the same day, Plaintiffs filed their Motion to Reopen and Motion For
Stay Pending Appeal. [#144; #145]. On May 9, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Corrected Motion to
Stay, requesting that the court stay its execution of the Final Judgment pending Plaintiffs’ appeal
to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (“Tenth Circuit”). [#147]. Plaintiffs
request a stay to avoid filing their pendent state-law claims in state court while their appeal is
pending before the Tenth Circuit. [Id. at 4-5]. Specifically, Plaintiffs maintain that a stay of this
court’s Final Judgment will insulate their state-law claims from the applicable state statutes of
limitation. [Id. at 4]. The court considers the motions below.
Motion to Reopen
First, Plaintiffs request that the court reopen their case for good cause shown. [#144].
Plaintiffs appear to take issue with the closing of their case pursuant to the entry of Final
Judgment, arguing that there is no order on the docket closing the case, nor did Plaintiffs receive
any such order. [Id. at 2]. Plaintiffs argue that the court should reopen this case in order to rule
on their Motion to Stay. [Id.]. Because Plaintiffs misapprehend the “termination” of the case,
the Motion to Reopen is DENIED.
In support of their argument to reopen this case for good cause shown, Plaintiffs cite
Frederick v. Hartford Underwriters Insurance Company for the proposition that good cause
exists to reopen a case where a party seeks a determination of their rights and claims. No. 11CV-02306-RM-KLM, 2015 WL 1499662, at *1 (D. Colo. Mar. 27, 2015). However, Frederick
is inapposite. The parties in Frederick moved to administratively close the matter pursuant to
Rule 41.2 of the Local Rules of Civil Practice, which is subject to reopening for good cause. Id.
(quoting D.C.COLO.LCivR. 41.2). Here, neither the Parties, nor the court ordered this matter
administratively closed; rather, the case terminated upon the Clerk’s entry of Final Judgment, see
Utah v. Norton, 396 F.3d 1281, 1286 (10th Cir. 2005) (“A final judgment is one that terminates
all matters as to all parties and causes of action” (internal quotations and citations omitted)) — a
separate and distinct occurrence from administrative closure. The termination of this case simply
reflects that there are no further claims remaining in this action to be adjudicated.
Despite the automatic termination of this case upon the entry of Final Judgment, there is
no requirement that either Party file a motion to reopen the case before this court can consider
post-judgment motions. See In re Winslow, 132 B.R. 1016 (D. Colo. 1991); Hettick v. Brown,
No. 12-CV-0188-CVE-FHM, 2013 WL 6048812, at *2 (N.D. Okla. Nov. 14, 2013). 1
Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion to Reopen is DENIED.
This holding is not, however, an invitation to Plaintiffs to continue to file post-judgment
motions, seeking reconsideration of the court’s rulings. Indeed, even if the court denied
qualified immunity and found that Plaintiffs’ articulation of Mr. Dixon’s constitutional right as
clearly established was sufficient to overcome the individual Defendants’ invocation of qualified
immunity, the individual Defendants could have filed an interlocutory appeal to the Tenth Circuit
and one or both of the issues that led this court to grant summary judgment based on qualified
Motion to Stay
“It is well settled that federal courts have statutory or inherent power to stay judgments
and orders pending appeal.” J. Perez & Cia., Inc. v. United States, 578 F. Supp. 1318, 1320
(D.P.R. 1984) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(d)). In ruling on a motion to stay pending the appeal of
a non-monetary judgment, courts apply the same factors utilized when ruling on a motion for
preliminary injunction. See Warner v. Gross, 776 F.3d 721, 728 (10th Cir. 2015). Thus, courts
determine whether the movant has demonstrated: (1) a likelihood of success on the merits on
appeal; (2) irreparable harm; (3) prejudice to the non-movant; and (4) any risk of harm to the
public. See McClendon v. City of Albuquerque, 79 F.3d 1014, 1020 (10th Cir. 1996) (discussing
10th Cir. R. 8.1).
Here, Plaintiffs request that this court stay execution of its Final Judgment pending their
appeal to the Tenth Circuit. [#147 at 3]. Plaintiffs argue that a supersedeas bond is unnecessary
given that the judgment is non-monetary. [Id. at 3-4]. While arguing that the enumerated factors
weigh in favor of granting a stay, implicit in Plaintiffs’ argument is that a stay pending appeal
will insulate their state-law claims from the applicable state statute of limitations and will allow
them to pursue their appeal without having to file a concurrent state-court action. [Id. at 4-5].
However, Plaintiffs cite to no authority (nor could this court find any) that suggests a stay of this
court’s Final Judgment would toll the applicable statute of limitations for their state-law claims,
thereby allowing them to avoid filing those claims in state court. And even if this court stayed
its Final Judgment, this court cannot and does not guarantee that any stay by this court would
afford the Plaintiffs the relief they desire.
immunity could still be before the Circuit. The resolution Plaintiffs seek as to these issues lies
with the Circuit, not this court.
Nor have Plaintiffs established that a stay is appropriate. The court finds the first factor,
i.e., the likelihood of success on the merits on appeal, weighs against Plaintiffs. As discussed
above, this court granted the individual Defendants qualified immunity based on procedural and
substantive reasons. The court found that Plaintiffs failed to carry its burden on summary
judgment on qualified immunity because they failed to respond to the individual Defendants’
argument that the alleged constitutional violation was not clearly established. 2 Given the prior
rulings of the Tenth Circuit as reflected in its Order on the Motion to Reconsider, this court
cannot find that Plaintiffs’ have established a likelihood of success on the merits on this
procedural issue. The court further found that even if it construed Plaintiffs’ statement that
pretrial detainees are entitled to adequate medical treatment under the Fourteenth Amendment as
an argument that Mr. Dixon’s constitutional right to care was “clearly established,” that
articulation was too generalized to overcome qualified immunity at summary judgment. This
finding, too, was grounded in this court’s analysis of binding Tenth Circuit law. Therefore, this
court finds that Plaintiffs have not established a likelihood of success on the merits; otherwise,
the court would have ruled differently in the first instance.
The second factor, i.e., whether there will be irreparable harm to Plaintiffs if a stay is not
granted, also weighs against Plaintiffs. While Plaintiffs argue that they will be prejudiced if they
are compelled to move forward in state court during the pendency of their appeal to the Tenth
Circuit, they articulate no reason why they cannot file in state court and then seek a stay of those
proceedings from the state court. Indeed, Plaintiffs cite no law that suggests that it is appropriate
for this court to attempt to toll a state statute of limitations or stay a state court action, through a
Indeed, as noted in the Order denying the Motion to Reconsider, Plaintiffs’ Response to the
Motion for Summary Judgment does not even include the words “clearly established” or
“qualified immunity.” [#142 at 5].
stay of the execution of the Final Judgment in this action.
Having declined to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’ state law claims, this court declines to inject itself now
or interfere with any state court proceedings with regard to the dismissed state law claims.
The last two factors are neutral at best. While there is no monetary judgment, this court
also finds no utility in staying the execution of a judgment in this case. Plaintiffs have already
appealed to the Tenth Circuit [#143], and Defendants are also entitled to have this case—which
was originally filed almost two years after Mr. Dixon’s death—proceed forward in the normal
Consequently, the Corrected Motion to Stay is DENIED.
For the reasons stated herein, IT IS ORDERED that:
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Reopen [#144] is DENIED, and this case remains
TERMINATED in accordance with the Final Judgment [#137] entered on April 19, 2017;
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Stay Pending Appeal [#145] is DENIED as moot; and
Plaintiffs’ Corrected Motion for Stay Pending Appeal [#147] is DENIED.
DATED: May 9, 2017
BY THE COURT:
s/ Nina Y. Wang
Nina Y. Wang
United States Magistrate Judge
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