Chevaldina v. Katz et al
ORDER granting 36 Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery and other deadlines. Signed by Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres on 8/28/2017. (js02)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 17-22225-Civ-WILLIAMS/TORRES
RAANAN KATZ, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION
TO STAY DISCOVERY AND OTHER DEADLINES
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ motion to stay discovery and
other deadlines [D.E. 36] pending the outcome of Defendants’ motion to dismiss
against Irina Chevaldina1 (“Plaintiff”). Plaintiff responded to Defendants’ motion
on August 21, 2017 [D.E. 43] to which Defendants replied on August 24, 2017. [D.E.
Therefore, Defendants’ motion is now ripe for disposition.
consideration of the motion, response, reply, relevant authority, and for the reasons
discussed below, Defendants’ motion is GRANTED.
This case began on June 14, 2017 when Plaintiff filed a complaint [D.E. 1]
and alleged that Defendants breached a settlement agreement between R. Katz, D.
Katz and the corporate defendants (collectively, the “RK Defendants”) on one side,
Plaintiff is representing herself pro se in this action.
and Plaintiff on the other. The settlement agreement was reached in the case of
R.K./FL Management, Inc. et. al. v. Irina Chevaldina, in the Circuit Court of the
Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County, Florida (case no. 1117842), after Plaintiff made a settlement offer which the RK Defendants accepted.
[D.E. 23-3]. Despite Plaintiff’s alleged attempts to avoid the plain language of the
settlement agreement, it has purportedly been enforced against Plaintiff several
times by the state court and the Third District Court of Appeal. [D.E. 23-3, 23-7,
23-8, 23-9, 23-10, 23-13].2
On June 30, 2017, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s original
complaint on the basis that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to
adjudicate this case. [D.E. 23]. On July 10, 2017, Plaintiff served Defendants with
an amended complaint [D.E. 26] and Defendants field another motion to dismiss on
July 19, 2017. [D.E. 29]. In addition to re-alleging her previous claims, Plaintiff
added a new count, contending that Defendants violated the Driver’s Privacy
Protection Act (the “DPAA”). Defendants believe that Plaintiff invented this claim
out of thin air to contrive a new basis for the Court’s jurisdiction since there is no
diversity of citizenship between the parties. In any event, Defendants suggest that
this new count fails to state a cause of action upon which relief may be granted and
that it too should be dismissed with prejudice. Thus, despite Plaintiff’s amended
Defendants suggest that a Florida state court has specifically reserved
jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement at issue, and that the
state court reiterated its continuing jurisdiction to enforce those terms as recently
as June 8, 2017 – less than one week before Plaintiff commenced this action. [D.E.
complaint, Defendants argue that the Court still lacks subject matter jurisdiction
and that Plaintiff’s amended complaint must be dismissed accordingly.
The thrust of Defendants’ motion is that the unique facts and procedural
posture of this case warrants a stay of discovery and other deadlines until this
Court rules on Defendants’ pending motion to dismiss. [D.E. 29]. Defendants argue
that this is an unusual case because it involves the frivolous attempts of Plaintiff to
re-litigate matters that have already been ruled upon or have been otherwise
disposed of on many occasions in state court. As such, Defendants suggest that
their motion to dismiss conclusively demonstrates that jurisdiction is not proper
before this Court and that Plaintiff cannot assert her claims against Defendants in
Plaintiff’s response is that Defendants have provided no specifics as to why
this action should be stayed pending Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff suggests that Defendants’ motion only makes conclusory statements that
the amended complaint lacks merit. Plaintiff believes that this case is not destined
for dismissal, as Defendants might believe, and that the motion to stay was filed
with reckless disregard for controlling case law, while misrepresenting the
underlying facts of this action. And even if Defendants prevail on their motion to
dismiss, Plaintiff suggests that there is a high likelihood that she will be given leave
to amend – meaning Defendants’ motion is not truly case dispositive. Plaintiff also
notes that even if Defendants are correct in that this case should be transferred to
Florida state court, which purportedly has exclusive jurisdiction over the settlement
agreement in question, the motion to stay will only delay the inevitable discovery
required to adjudicate the parties’ claims and defenses. In sum, Plaintiff argues
that Defendants’ motion is premature, speculative, fails to provide any specific
showing of prejudice or burden, and that it should therefore be denied.
The Court “has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an incident to its
power to control its own docket.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997); Landis
v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936) (“[T]he 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.”); Chrysler Int’l Corp. v. Chemaly, 280 F.3d 1358, 1360 (11th Cir. 2002)
(“At the outset, we stress the broad discretion district courts have in managing their
cases.”); Johnson v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of Georgia, 263 F.3d 1234, 1269 (11th
Cir. 2001) (“[W]e accord district courts broad discretion over the management of
pre-trial activities, including discovery and scheduling.”). Additionally, “[m]atters
pertaining to discovery are committed to the sound discretion of the district court.”
Patterson v. United States Postal Serv., 901 F.2d 927, 929 (11th Cir. 1990).
To prevail on a motion to stay, Defendants must demonstrate reasonableness
and good cause. “While overall stays of discovery may be rarely granted, courts
have held good cause to stay discovery exists wherein ‘resolution of a preliminary
motion may dispose of the entire action.”’ Nankivil v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 216
F.R.D. 689, 692 (M.D. Fla.), aff’d, 87 F. App’x 713 (11th Cir. 2003) (emphasis added)
(quoting Association Fe Y Allegria v. Republic of Ecuador, 1999 WL 147716
(S.D.N.Y. Mar. 16, 1999)); see also Patterson, 901 F.2d at 927 (holding district court
did not abuse its discretion by staying discovery where pending dispositive motions
gave court enough information to ascertain further discovery not likely to produce a
genuine issue of material fact); Feldman v. Flood, 176 F.R.D. 651 (M.D. Fla. 1997)
(holding stay of discovery not appropriate unless pending dispositive motion would
dispose of entire action); Spencer Trask Software and Information Services, LLC v.
Rpost International Limited, 206 F.R.D. 367 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (holding good cause for
discovery stay exists where dispositive motion has been filed and stay is for short
time period that does not prejudice opposing party); Simpson v. Specialty Retail
Concepts, Inc., 121 F.R.D. 261 (M.D.N.C. 1988) (setting up balancing test for stays
“In evaluating whether the moving party has met its burden, a court ‘must
balance the harm produced by a delay in discovery against the possibility that the
[dispositive] motion will be granted and entirely eliminate the need for such
discovery.’” Bocciolone v. Solowsky, 2008 WL 2906719, at *2 (S.D. Fla. July 24,
2008) (emphasis added) (quoting McCabe v. Foley, 233 F.R.D. 683, 685 (M.D. Fla.
2006)). This means that courts generally take a “preliminary peek at the merits of
[the] dispositive motion to see if it appears to be clearly meritorious and truly case
dispositive.” Feldman, 176 F.R.D. at 652-53. It is also well established that a stay
is rarely granted unless resolution of the motion will dispose of the entire case. See
Gibbons v. Nationstar Mortg. LLC, 2015 WL 12840959, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 18,
2015) (“Overall, stays of discovery are seldom granted, but courts have held that
good cause to stay discovery exists when resolution of a dispositive motion may
dispose of the entire action.”) (citing Patterson, 901 F.2d at 929 (holding that the
district court did not abuse its discretion by staying discovery where a pending
dispositive motion gave the court enough information to ascertain that further
discovery was not likely to produce a genuine issue of material fact); Feldman, 176
F.R.D. at 652–53 (holding that a stay of discovery was not appropriate where
pending motion to dismiss was not case dispositive)).
Here, we agree with Defendants that good cause exists to stay discovery until
the Court resolves the pending motion to dismiss. As Defendants point out, there is
no diversity of citizenship in this case and the claims at issue appear to be subject to
a state court’s exclusive jurisdiction over the parties’ settlement agreement or
otherwise barred by res judicata. In making this determination, we are not offering
any substantive opinion on the merits of Defendants’ motion. Instead, we are only
taking a “preliminary peek” to see if Defendants’ motion is meritorious and truly
See Arriaga-Zacarias v. Lewis Taylor Farms, Inc., 2008 WL
4544470 at * 2 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 10, 2008) (“[I]t may be helpful for the court to take a
‘preliminary peek’ at the merits of the dispositive motion to assess the likelihood
that such motion will be granted”). And, after taking that preliminary peek, we
agree that Plaintiff’s entire cause of action before this Court may be dismissed with
prejudice because (1) there is no diversity jurisdiction, (2) the claims at issue appear
to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state courts, and (3) the DPAA may not
apply for several important reasons.3
Furthermore, while a potentially dispositive motion is pending, we agree that
Defendants should not be required to suffer monetary burdens or expenses when it
appears that Plaintiff’s claims may fail for several reasons as a matter of law.
Defendants note that they have already incurred tens of thousands of dollars in
attorneys’ fees for an action that is not properly before this Court and that it would
be a continued waste of judicial economy to allow Plaintiff to litigate this action
when the entire case may soon be dismissed. Defendants’ arguments are well taken
because, as the Eleventh Circuit has stated before, courts should stay actions when
it appears that a dispositive motion may dispose of an entire case and preserve
resources for all parties, including the Court:
If the district court dismisses a nonmeritorious claim before discovery
has begun, unnecessary costs to the litigants and to the court system
can be avoided. Conversely, delaying ruling on a motion to dismiss
such a claim until after the parties complete discovery encourages
abusive discovery and, if the court ultimately dismisses the claim,
imposes unnecessary costs. For these reasons, any legally unsupported
claim that would unduly enlarge the scope of discovery should be
eliminated before the discovery stage, if possible. Allowing a case to
proceed through the pretrial processes with an invalid claim that
increases the costs of the case does nothing but waste the resources of
the litigants in the action before the court, delay resolution of disputes
between other litigants, squander scarce judicial resources, and
damage the integrity and the public's perception of the federal judicial
Defendants suggest that not only does the DPAA not apply on its face, but
that Plaintiff’s driver’s license was produced to Defendants during her deposition in
the related state court case in February 2012.
Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1368 (11th Cir. 1997) (footnotes
omitted). Accordingly, Defendants’ motion to stay discovery and other deadlines is
GRANTED pending the outcome of Defendants’ motion to dismiss. [D.E. 36].
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that
Defendants’ motion to stay discovery and other deadlines [D.E. 36] is GRANTED
pending the outcome of the Court’s ruling on Defendants’ motion to dismiss.
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Miami, Florida, this 28th day of
/s/ Edwin G. Torres
EDWIN G. TORRES
United States Magistrate Judge
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