Steiger v. Presque Isle County et al
ORDER Granting Defendants' 57 Motion for a Protective Order and Denying Plaintiff's 64 Motion for a Telephonic Status Conference. Signed by District Judge Thomas L. Ludington. (Sian, M)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
RICHARD KEVIN STEIGER,
Case No. 15-cv-14142
Honorable Thomas L. Ludington
PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY, et al.,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR A PROTECTIVE ORDER AND
DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR A TELEPHONIC STATUS CONFERENCE
Plaintiff Richard Kevin Steiger, former County Prosecutor for Defendant Presque Isle
County, initiated the above-captioned matter by filing his complaint on November 24, 2015. See
Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that, in response to his attempts to expose corruption in the
Presque Isle County Sheriff’s Department, Defendant Presque Isle and various members of the
Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners denied him a raise for the 2015 calendar year and
voted to discontinue using him as civil counsel. Plaintiff alleges that these actions constitute a
violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition government under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, and a violation of the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (“WPA”),
Michigan Compiled Law § 15.361.
On August 1, 2016 Plaintiff Steiger filed a motion for leave to file a first amended
complaint, seeking to add § 1983 claims against two additional parties, Presque Isle Sherriff
Robert Paschke and Judge Donald McLennan. See Mot to Amend ¶ 7; ECF No. 15. Plaintiff’s
motion to amend was granted, and Plaintiff filed his amended complaint on November 15, 2016
adding Defendant Paschke and Defendant McLennan. See Am. Compl. ECF No. 37.
After obtaining a number of adjournments to the discovery deadline, on March 15, 2017
Defendants Paschke and McLennan filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings asserting the
defense of qualified immunity. See ECF No. 54. In conjunction with that motion, on March 28,
2017 Defendants Paschke and McLennan filed a motion for a protective order under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 26, seeking to stay any further oral or written discovery until the
qualified immunity issue is resolved. See ECF No. 57. On March 30, 2017, the Commissioner
Defendants also filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings asserting qualified immunity. See
ECF No. 58. On April 13, 2017 Plaintiff Steiger responded to Defendants’ motions by filing an
“Emergency Motion to Request a Telephone Conference with the Court and Counsel for the
Parties Before Tuesday, April 18, 2017.” See ECF No. 64. Through the motion, Plaintiff argues
that Defendants should be required to go forward with scheduled depositions because the Court
has represented that no further extensions would be granted to the scheduling order. Id.
Qualified immunity is “an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability.”
Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526, (1985). The doctrine protects government officials “from
liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
457 U.S. 800, 818, (1982). “Qualified immunity balances two important interests—the need to
hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield
officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009).
Because resolution of Defendants’ motions in their favor would render them immune
from suit and would prevent Plaintiff from conducting any further discovery, Defendants’
motion for a protective order will be granted. For the same reason, Plaintiff’s motion for an
emergency status conference will be denied. If Defendants’ motions are ultimately denied, the
Court will work with the parties to establish a new, expedited scheduling order.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Defendants’ motion for a protective order, ECF No.
57, is GRANTED. Discovery is STAYED pending resolution of Defendants’ motions for
judgment on the pleadings.
It is further ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion for a telephonic status conference, ECF
No. 64, is DENIED.
s/Thomas L. Ludington
THOMAS L. LUDINGTON
United States District Judge
Dated: April 17, 2017
PROOF OF SERVICE
The undersigned certifies that a copy of the foregoing order was served
upon each attorney or party of record herein by electronic means or first
class U.S. mail on April 17, 2017.
s/Michael A. Sian
MICHAEL A. SIAN, Case Manager
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