Ellison v. Ladner
ORDER granting 8 Motion to Stay Discovery. Signed by Magistrate Judge James P. O'Hara on 5/10/2017. (srj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
Case No. 17-4025-DDC
CHRISTINE M.T. LADNER,
Defendant has filed a motion to stay discovery and other Rule 26 activities (ECF.
No. 8) pending a ruling on her motion to dismiss (ECF No. 6). Plaintiff has informally
notified the court that he does not oppose the requested stay.
It has long been the general policy in the District of Kansas not to stay discovery
even if a dispositive motion is pending.1
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.2 The decision whether to stay discovery rests
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) (“‘Until this threshold immunity question is
resolved, discovery should not be allowed.’” (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S.
800, 818 (1982) (emphasis in original)).
in the sound discretion of the district court.3 As a practical matter, this calls for a caseby-case determination.
Upon review of the instant motion and the pending motion to dismiss, the court
concludes that a stay of all pretrial proceedings, including discovery and the scheduling
of deadlines, is warranted until the court resolves defendant’s pending dispositive motion.
Defendant asserts the defenses of Eleventh Amendment immunity, absolute prosecutorial
immunity, and qualified immunity in her motion to dismiss. Defendants are generally
entitled to have questions of immunity resolved before being required to engage in
discovery and other pretrial proceedings.4 “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 defending a long drawn out lawsuit.”5 The Supreme
Court has made it clear that until the threshold question of immunity is resolved,
discovery should not be allowed.6
Additionally, defendant’s motion to dismiss, if
granted, would dispose of the case. No party suggests that resolution of the dispositive
motion is dependent on information that would be gained through discovery.
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997).
Siegert, 500 U.S. at 232–33.
Id. at 232; see also Gallegos v. City and Cnty. 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, 457 U.S. at
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)).
Accordingly, discovery at this point is unnecessary and potentially wasteful. Indeed, on
May 9, 2017, the undersigned magistrate judge received an e-mail from plaintiff's
counsel confirming he had no objection to defendant’s motion being granted.
In consideration of the foregoing, and upon good cause shown,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendant’s motion to stay (ECF No. 8) 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 motion to dismiss, counsel 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.
Dated May 10, 2017, at Kansas City, Kansas.
s/ James P. O’Hara
James P. O’Hara
U.S. Magistrate Judge
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