Brown et al v. Kenner Police Department et al
ORDER granting 14 Motion to Stay. Matter is stayed for 45 days except: If they have not already done so, defendants Michael Glaser and the City of Kenner are hereby ordered to disclose to plaintiffs no later than November 15, 2017, the names of any officers involved in the shooting of Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown.This stay shall not prevent plaintiffs from amending their complaint to add individual officers as defendants.. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 11/7/17. (jjs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
ARMOND BROWN, ET AL.
KENNER POLICE DEPARTMENT,
SECTION “R” (3)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is defendants’ motion to stay proceedings pending the
completion of a criminal investigation.1 For the following reasons, the Court
grants a stay of 45 days.
This case arises out of the death of Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown on
January 23, 2017. 2 Mr. Brown, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia
and bipolar disorder, was shot and killed by Kenner police officers allegedly
enforcing a coroner’s emergency commitment order. 3 On April 13, 2017, Mr.
Brown’s parents, Armond Brown, Sr. and Jaronet Whitaker, and brothers,
Joshua Brown and James Whitaker, Jr., filed a complaint for damages
R. Doc. 14.
R. Doc. 13.
Id. at 4-8.
asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law. 4 Plaintiffs named
as defendants Kenner Police Department Chief Michael Glaser, the City of
Kenner, and certain unknown and as-yet-unnamed Kenner police officers.5
Plaintiffs assert that Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown was unarmed at
the time of the shooting and was shot and killed without just cause. 6
Plaintiffs further allege that the City of Kenner, through Chief of Police
Glaser and Mayor E. “Ben” Zahn, adopted policies and practices that
deprived Mr. Brown of his civil rights. 7 Defendants Glaser and the City of
Kenner now move to stay these proceedings pending a criminal investigation
of Mr. Brown’s death. 8
Defendants represent that Mr. Brown’s shooting is the subject of a
pending investigation and review by the district attorney for possible
criminal charges. 9 The Court may stay a civil case pending the resolution of
R. Doc. 1.
R. Doc. 13. The original complaint also named the Kenner Police
Department as a defendant. See R. Doc. 1 at 1-2. The Kenner Police
Department is omitted from the amended complaint, and is no longer a
defendant in this matter. See R. Doc. 13 at 3 ¶ 6.
R. Doc. 13 at 8 ¶ 18.
Id. at 4-5.
R. Doc. 14.
R. Doc 14-1 at 1-3.
a parallel criminal proceeding. See United States v. Little Al, 712 F.2d 133,
136 (5th Cir. 1983) (noting that “[s]uch a stay contemplates special
circumstances and the need to avoid substantial and irreparable prejudice”).
In determining whether to grant a stay, district courts in the Fifth Circuit
consider (1) the extent of overlap between the criminal case and the civil case;
(2) the status of the criminal case; (3) the plaintiff’s interests; (4) the
interests of and burden on the defendant; (5) the interests of the courts; and
(6) the public interest. Alcala v. Tex. Webb Cty., 625 F. Supp. 2d 391, 39899 (S.D. Tex. 2009) (collecting cases). Although the Court has “general
discretionary power to stay proceedings before it in the control of its docket
and in the interests of justice,” a stay may not be “immoderate or of an
indefinite duration.” McKnight v. Blanchard, 667 F.2d 477, 479 (5th Cir.
The most important threshold issue in determining whether to grant a
stay is the extent of overlap between the civil and criminal actions. See
Dominguez v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., 530 F. Supp. 2d 902, 906-07
(S.D. Tex. 2008). Here, the criminal investigation into Mr. Brown’s death
arises out of the same set of facts as this lawsuit. The factual issues relevant
to the potential criminal liability of the police officers involved in this
shooting are also central to plaintiffs’ theory of civil liability. Although
plaintiffs also pursue claims against the City of Kenner and Chief Glaser,
these claims cannot be easily separated from the circumstances of Mr.
The Court therefore finds that the civil and criminal
proceedings involve substantially similar issues.
The status of the criminal investigation supports a short stay.
Defendants represent that the district attorney is investigating the shooting
for possible criminal charges, and that this review is not expected to be of
long duration.10 Although no officer has yet been indicted in connection with
Mr. Brown’s death, this does not necessarily weigh against a stay when a
criminal investigation is active and likely to be resolved swiftly. See SEC v.
Offill, No. 07-1643, 2008 WL 958072, at *3 (N.D. Tex. 2008) (noting that
the government expected to bring charges within a few months).
Plaintiffs argue that they have an interest in the expeditious resolution
of this case, and are likely to suffer prejudice from a stay because witness
memories fade and evidence tends to dissipate over time. 11 Defendants
assert that witness memories are not a significant factor because of the
anticipated short duration of the criminal investigation. 12
recognizes plaintiffs’ substantial interests in proceeding with this case and
R. Doc. 14-1 at 3-4.
R. Doc. 17 at 3.
R. Doc. 14-1 at 4.
obtaining evidence in a timely manner, but finds that a short stay of 45 days
will not prejudice plaintiffs.
Further, the Court finds that defendants’ interests support a stay. A
defendant facing simultaneous civil and criminal proceedings may be
burdened by the choice between “invoking his Fifth Amendment rights [and]
jeopardiz[ing] his defense in the civil suit, where an adverse inference may
be drawn from the defendant’s silence.” SEC v. AmeriFirst Funding, Inc.,
No. 07-1188, 2008 WL 866065, at *4 (N.D. Tex. 2008). The police officers
involved in Mr. Brown’s shooting have an interest in protecting their Fifth
Amendment right against self-incrimination while they are facing possible
The Court’s interests and the public interest will not be substantially
affected by a short stay of these proceedings. The Court has interests in
judicial economy and expediency. Alcala, 625 F. Supp. 2d at 406-07. The
Court is obligated “to move its docket, and not let cases languish before it.”
Id. at 407 (internal quotation omitted). The public also has an interest in
resolving disputes “with minimal delay, but only to the extent that the
integrity of the defendant’s rights can be maintained.” Id. A stay of 45 days
will not unduly interfere with the Court’s ability to manage its docket or the
public’s interest in quickly resolving legal disputes.
Accordingly, the Court finds that a stay of 45 days appropriately
balances the interests of the parties in this matter and serves the interests of
For the foregoing reasons, this matter is STAYED for 45 days, except
If they have not already done so, defendants Michael Glaser and the
City of Kenner are hereby ordered to disclose to plaintiffs no later than
November 15, 2017, the names of any officers involved in the shooting of
Armond Jairon Chauncey Brown.
This stay shall not prevent plaintiffs from amending their complaint to
add individual officers as defendants.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of November, 2017.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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