Muathe et al v. Hite et al
ORDER granting 17 Motion to Stay Discovery. Signed by Magistrate Judge James P. O'Hara on 11/14/2017.Mailed to pro se party by regular mail (srj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
ERIC MUATHE, et al.,
STUART HITE, et al.,
Case No. 17-2373-CM
Defendants have filed a motion to stay discovery (ECF No. 17) pending a ruling
on their motion to dismiss.1 Plaintiffs have not filed a response to the motion to stay
discovery, and the time for doing so under D. Kan. Rule 6.1(d) has run. The motion is
D. Kan. Rule 7.4 provides: “If a responsive brief or memorandum is not filed
within the Rule 6.1(d) time requirements, the court will consider and decide the motion as
an uncontested motion.
Ordinarily, the court will grant the motion without further
notice.” Although the court could grant the motion solely on the ground that it is
unopposed, the court will briefly address the merits of the motion.
Although the motion to stay references defendant’s initial motion to dismiss
(ECF No. 16), defendants anticipated in their motion to stay the filing of an amended
motion to dismiss that “expressly raise[s] the qualified immunity defense.” ECF No. 17
at 5, n. 1. Defendants have since filed their amended motion to dismiss (ECF No. 18),
and the court has found the initial dispositive motion moot. See ECF No. 19.
It has long been the general policy in the District of Kansas not to stay discovery
even if a dispositive motion is pending.2
But four exceptions to this policy are
recognized. A discovery stay may be appropriate if: (1) the case is likely to be finally
concluded via the dispositive motion; (2) the facts sought through discovery would not
affect the resolution of the dispositive motion; (3) discovery on all issues posed by the
complaint would be wasteful and burdensome; or (4) the dispositive motion raises issues
as to the defendant’s immunity from suit.3 The decision whether to stay discovery rests
in the sound discretion of the district court.4 As a practical matter, this calls for a caseby-case determination.
The court has reviewed the record, the instant motion, and the pending amended
motion to dismiss. The court concludes that a brief stay of all pretrial proceedings—
including discovery and the scheduling of deadlines—is warranted until the court
resolves defendants’ pending dispositive motion. Defendants assert they’re entitled to
qualified immunity. Defendants are generally entitled to have questions of immunity
resolved before being required to engage in discovery and other pretrial proceedings.5
“One of the purposes of immunity, absolute or qualified, is to spare a defendant not only
unwarranted liability, but unwarranted demands customarily imposed upon those
See Wolf v. United States, 157 F.R.D. 494, 495 (D. Kan. 1994).
Id. (citing Kutilek v. Gannon, 132 F.R.D. 296, 297–98 (D. Kan. 1990)); Siegert v.
Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 232–33 (1991).
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997).
Siegert, 500 U.S. at 232–33.
defending a long drawn out lawsuit.”6 The Supreme Court has made it clear that until the
threshold question of immunity is resolved, discovery should not be allowed.7
addition, the court finds that a ruling on the dispositive motion could narrow (or even
conclude) this case, making discovery at this point wasteful and burdensome.
In consideration of the foregoing, and upon good cause shown,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendants’ motion to stay (ECF No. 17) is granted.
All pretrial proceedings in this case, including discovery and initial
disclosures, are stayed until further order of the court.
Should the case survive the pending amended motion to dismiss, the parties
shall confer and submit a Rule 26(f) planning meeting report to the undersigned’s
chambers within 14 days of the ruling on the motion. The court will then promptly set a
Dated November 14, 2017, at Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ James P. O’Hara
James P. O’Hara
U.S. Magistrate Judge
Id. at 232; see also Gallegos v. City and Cty. of Denver, 984 F.2d 358, 361 (10th
Cir. 1993) (“A successful claim of qualified immunity allows a public official to avoid
the burdens of discovery and litigation, as well as liability.” (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
457 U.S. 800, 817–18 (1982)).
Siegert, 500 U.S. at 233 (“The entitlement is an immunity from suit rather than a
mere defense to liability . . . .” (quoting Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)
(emphasis in original)).
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