Raven v. Williams et al
ORDER GRANTING 25 Defendants' Motion to Stay. The Motion is GRANTED. This matter is stayed pending resolution of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [# 24 ]. SO ORDERED by Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews on 10/8/2019. Text Only Entry (skclc2)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews
Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-01727-WJM-SKC
KANDICE L. RAVEN,
JASON WALLACE, and
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY [ECF. #25]
This order addresses Defendants Dean Williams, Travis Trani, Michelle Nelson,
Ryder May, David Blakely, Jason Williams, and Steven Blade (collectively, the
“Defendants”) Motion to Stay Discovery [#25] 1 (the “Motion”). The Court has reviewed the
Motion, the entire docket, and applicable law. Oral argument will not materially assist the
Court in its decision. For the reasons below, the Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff Kandice L. Raven’s (“Raven”) Complaint [#1] brings two claims pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments arising
The Court uses “[#__]” to refer to specific docket entries in CM/ECF.
out of allegations concerning her medical care and conditions of confinement against
Defendants. [See generally #1.] On August 27, 2019, Defendants filed their Motion to
Dismiss Prisoner Complaint asserting, among other things, that they are entitled to
qualified immunity. [#24.] Defendants now seek a stay of discovery while their motion to
dismiss is pending. [ECF. #25.]
Rule 1 instructs that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “shall be construed and
administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.”
The decision to issue a protective order and thereby stay discovery is within the sound
discretion of the trial court. See Diaz v. Paul J. Kennedy Law Firm, 289 F.3d 671, 674
(10th Cir. 2002). But stays are the exception in this judicial district, not the rule. Bustos v.
United States, 257 F.R.D. 617, 623 (D. Colo. 2009) (“This District generally disfavors
stays of discovery.”).
Upon a showing of good cause, a protective order is appropriate to stay discovery
to “protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). Courts consider the propriety of a stay by
balancing five factors: (1) Boateng’s interests in proceeding expeditiously and the
potential prejudice of a delay; (2) the burden on the Defendants if no stay is issued; (3)
the convenience to the Court; (4) the interests of non-parties; and (5) the public interest.
See String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 02-cv-01934-LTB-PAC, 2006
WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 30, 2006). “[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.” Ellis v. J.R.’s Country Stores, Inc., No. 12-cv-01916-CMA-KLM, 2012 WL
6153513, at *1 (quoting 8 Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice & Procedure §
2040, at 521–22 (2d ed.1994)) (further citations omitted). See also 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).
First, the Court acknowledges that Raven has a presumptive right to proceed
expeditiously with her claims. See Alattar v. Bell, No. 13-cv-02990-MSK-KMT, 2014 WL
2566271, at *2 (D. Colo. June 5, 2014). This right “should not be denied except under the
most extreme circumstances.” Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Chilcott Portfolio
Mgmt., 713 F.2d 1477, 1484 (10th Cir. 1983). Although she did not file a response to the
Motion, on September 13, 2019, she filed her Motion to Stay Deadlines [#36]. 2 The Court
construes Raven’s filing of her own motion to stay as consenting to the relief sought by
Defendants’ Motion. Thus, apart from observing that a stay would extend the period of
discovery, the Court cannot identify any specific prejudice that a delay would cause. In
any event, the Court finds that this consideration does not outweigh the importance of
first determining the applicability of qualified immunity. Without any specific examples of
how Raven’s ability to conduct discovery could be adversely affected, the Court finds that
the her general interest in proceeding expeditiously is outweighed by the other factors.
Stone v. Vail Resorts Dev. Co., Civil Action No. 09-cv-02081-WYD-KLM, 2010 WL
148278, at *1 (D. Colo. Jan. 7, 2010).
The Court denied that motion for lack of good cause shown. [See #38.]
The Court also finds that the Defendants would be burdened in the absence of a
stay. Here, the Defendants have asserted the qualified immunity defense. Qualified
immunity serves to spare officials from unwarranted liability as well as “demands
customarily imposed upon those defending a long drawn out lawsuit,” and are “effectively
lost if a case is erroneously permitted to go to trial.” Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 232
(1991) (quoting in part Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 525 (1985)). With respect to
qualified immunity, the Tenth Circuit has explained:
Qualified immunity is an entitlement not to stand trial or face the other
burdens of litigation. The privilege is an immunity from suit rather than a
mere defense to liability . . . Accordingly, qualified immunity questions
should be resolved at the earliest possible stage in litigation. Even such
pretrial matters as discovery are to be avoided if possible, as inquiries of
this kind can be peculiarly disruptive of effective government.
Martin v. County of Santa Fe, 626 F. App’x 736, 740 (10th Cir. 2015) (quoting Jiron v. City
of Lakewood, 392 F.3d 410, 414 (10th Cir. 2004) (emphasis in original)). Thus, “discovery
generally should be avoided once qualified immunity is raised,” unless the plaintiff
demonstrates “how [such] discovery will raise a genuine fact issue as to the defendants’
qualified immunity claim.” Id. (quoting Cole v. Ruidoso Mun. Sch., 43 F.3d 1373, 1387
(10th Cir.1994)). Raven has made no such demonstration. This factor weighs in favor of
Next, the Court considers its own convenience. The Court recognizes that an “illadvised stay” may inconvenience courts by making the “docket less predictable and,
hence, less manageable.” Stone, 2010 WL 148278, at *3. However, “[w]here a pending
motion may dispose of an action . . . a stay of proceedings may allow the Court to avoid
expending resources in managing an action that ultimately will be dismissed.” Id. In this
case, the pending motion to dismiss may result in the dismissal of some or all of the claims
in the case. Therefore, a stay may prevent the waste of judicial time and resources in
handling discovery disputes regarding claims and parties that are subject to dismissal.
Considering this case is in the early stages, the Court concludes that the interests of
judicial economy weigh in favor of a stay.
With respect to the fourth factor, neither party has identified any nonparty whose
interests would be impacted by the requested stay. Finally, although there is a general
public interest in the speedy resolution of legal disputes, see, e.g., Waisanen v. Terracon
Consultants, Inc., Civil Action No. 09-cv-01104-MSK-KMT, 2009 WL 5184699, at *2 (D.
Colo. Dec. 22, 2009), there is also a strong public policy in “avoiding unnecessary
expenditures of public and private resources on litigation.” Chapman v. Fed. Bureau of
Prisons, No. 15-cv-00279-WYD-KLM, 2015 WL 4574863, at *4 (D. Colo. July 30, 2015).
Given the possibility of dismissal of the case, in whole or in part, the fifth factor weighs in
favor of a stay.
Having balanced the five String Cheese factors, the Court finds that a stay of
discovery pending the resolution of the motion to dismiss is warranted. Therefore, IT IS
ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Stay Discovery [ECF. #25] is GRANTED. This
Order does not apply to the briefing schedule for Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss [#24]. 3
Plaintiff Kandice L. Raven’s response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [#24] is due
October 18, 2019. [See #40.] Defendants’ reply is due “no later than 14 days after the
date of service of the response.” D.C.COLO.LCivR 7.1(d).
DATED: October 8, 2019.
BY THE COURT:
S. Kato Crews
United States Magistrate Judge
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