Johnson v. Douglas County Medical Department
ORDER granting 75 Motion for a Protective Order to Stay Discovery. Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson shall have thirty days after resolution of their motion to dismiss 73 in order to respond, if necessary, to the discovery requests served by the plaintiff. Ordered by Magistrate Judge Thomas D. Thalken. (TRL)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
DAVID L. JOHNSON, JR.,
COUNTY OF DOUGLAS,
NEBRASKA, et al.,
This matter is before the court on the defendants Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C.,
and Susan M. Wilkinson’s Motion for a Protective Order to Stay Discovery (Filing No. 75).
The moving defendants filed a brief (Filing No. 76) in support of the motion. The plaintiff
filed a brief (Filing No. 77) in opposition to the motion to stay. The defendants did not file
a reply. No other parties participated in briefing the motion.
Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson seek a stay of their
participation in discovery until after the court resolves their pending motion to dismiss
(Filing No. 73). Specifically, the moving defendants request a stay of their deadline to
respond to discovery requests served by the plaintiff until thirty days after resolution of their
motion to dismiss. The moving defendants argue the plaintiff served them with discovery
requests in contravention of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d) because the requests were served prior
to their participation in a planning conference.1 Additionally, the moving defendants argue
that responding to the lengthy discovery requests would cause them an undue burden
under the circumstances because they filed a motion, which is dispositive of the claims
against them. Moreover, the moving defendants argue that the plaintiff would suffer no
prejudice by the limited stay as compared to the relatively heavy burden on the defendants
of responding to a significant number of discovery requests.
Finally, the moving
defendants argue the court should consider the merits of the motion to dismiss, which favor
granting a stay, although the plaintiff has not yet had an opportunity to file a response.
Although the case was filed on Septem ber 23, 2009, the m oving defendants were not added as
parties until the plaintiff filed a Fourth Am ended Com plaint on April 22, 2011. See Filing No. 53.
In an attempt to move this case toward completion, the plaintiff opposes any stay.
See Filing No. 77 - Brief p. 1-2. Further, the plaintiff notes this case was exempt from the
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(f) conference requirements because the plaintiff initially filed the case
without counsel. Id. Accordingly, the parties did not participate in an early planning
conference as contemplated by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d). Id.; see also Filing No. 7 - Order
(noting case exemption from conference requirement). However, after counsel entered an
appearance for the plaintiff, the parties did have a planning conference on September 15,
2010, and filed a planning conference report. See Filing No. 36. Subsequently, the court
entered a progression order authorizing the parties to commence discovery. See Filing No.
37. After counsel for the defendants Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M.
Wilkinson entered an appearance in this matter, all counsel participated in a telephone
planning conference with the court. See Filing No. 69. Another telephone planning
conference is scheduled for August 29, 2011. Id.
The power of a district court to stay an action pending on its docket 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.” Landis v. North Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936); see Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th
Cir. 2005) (“A district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings in its own court
under Landis.”); Capitol Indem. Corp. v. Haverfield, 218 F.3d 872, 874 (8th Cir. 2000).
Similarly, it is a “settled proposition that a court has broad discretion and inherent power
to stay discovery until preliminary questions that may dispose of the case are determined.”
Farouki v. Petra Int’l. Banking, Corp., 683 F. Supp. 2d 23, 26 (D. D.C. 2010) (citations
and quotations omitted). Furthermore, “[d]iscovery is considered inappropriate . . . while
a motion that would be dispositive of the claims . . . is pending.” Geiser v. Simplicity,
Inc., No. 5:10-CV-21, 2011 WL 128776, at *4 (D. W. Va. Jan. 14, 2011) (Slip Copy).
In determining whether a stay is appropriate, “courts consider the following three
factors: (1) potential prejudice to the non-moving party; (2) hardship and inequity to the
moving party if the matter is not stayed; and (3) economy of judicial resources.” Benge v.
Eli Lilly & Co., 553 F. Supp. 2d 1049, 1050 (N.D. Ind. 2008). The court may also consider
whether the movant is likely to succeed on the merits of the dispositive motion and the
public interest. See Nken v. Holder, 129 S. Ct. 1749, 1761 (2009) (regarding stay of
deportation pending appeal). The party requesting a stay bears the burden of showing
justification for a stay under the circumstances of the case. Id.
The court finds Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson’s argument
with regard to Rule 26(d) to be unpersuasive given the court’s authorization of discovery
in the case and these defendants’ participation in a planning conference with the court.
However, Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson have met their burden
of showing they will likely suffer prejudice by being required to provide substantial discovery
before the dispositive motion is resolved. Although the motion to dismiss is not yet fully
briefed, the plaintiff fails to show any additional discovery is needed for its resolution.
Additionally, the period of the stay is likely to be short compared with the potential for
burdensome, and potentially unnecessary, discovery. The court has considered all
relevant factors and finds the balance weighs in favor of a stay. Under the circumstances,
the court finds a temporary stay will best serve the interests of the parties and the court.
IT IS ORDERED:
Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson’s Motion for a
Protective Order to Stay Discovery (Filing No. 75) is granted.
Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., and Susan M. Wilkinson shall have thirty days
after resolution of their motion to dismiss (Filing No. 73) in order to respond, if necessary,
to the discovery requests served by the plaintiff.
DATED this 6th day of July, 2011.
BY THE COURT:
s/ Thomas D. Thalken
United States Magistrate Judge
*This opinion m ay contain hyperlinks to other docum ents or W eb sites. The U.S. District Court for
the District of Nebraska does not endorse, recom m end, approve, or guarantee any third parties or the services
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hyperlink. Thus, the fact that a hyperlink ceases to work or directs the user to som e other site does not affect
the opinion of the court.
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