O'Grady-Sullivan v. The State of Nevada et al

Filing 78

ORDER Denying 65 Motion to Stay Discovery Pending Courts Ruling on Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman on 7/23/2012. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - SLR)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 6 7 8 9 10 11 TARA O’GRADY-SULLIVAN, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) STATE OF NEVADA, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) __________________________________________) Case No. 2:11-cv-00839-MMD-CWH ORDER 12 This matter is before the Court on State Defendants’ Motion to Stay Discovery Pending 13 Court’s Ruling on Motion for Summary Judgment (#65), filed June 15, 2012. The Court also 14 considered Plaintiff’s Combined Opposition (#75), filed July 20, 2012. 15 BACKGROUND 16 On December 30, 2010, Plaintiff Tara O’Grady-Sullivan (“Plaintiff) filed a complaint 17 asserting various state torts as well as claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 based on her arrest and 18 detention between December 31, 2008 and January 2, 2009 against Defendants State of Nevada ex 19 rel. Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol Division, Chris Perry, and Chris Bennett (“State 20 Defendants”) and Nye County, Anthony Demeo, and John Peter Hegge (“Nye County 21 Defendants”). On December 15, 2011, the Court entered an order granting in part and denying in 22 part Defendants’ motion to dismiss. 23 On May 25, 2012, State Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (#61) and on 24 June 11, 2012, Nye County Defendants filed their joinder (#62). Defendants contend that summary 25 judgment is warranted because Chris Perry and Chris Bennett are entitled to qualified immunity as 26 to Plaintiff’s federal cause of action and discretionary immunity as to Plaintiff’s state causes of 27 action. On June 15, 2012, State Defendants filed their motion to stay discovery (#65) and Nye 28 County Defendants filed their joinder on June 22, 2012 (#66). In doing so, Defendants argue that 1 staying discovery until the issue of immunity is decided is appropriate because it is immunity from 2 suit rather than a mere defense to liability. Defendants’ assert that they should not be required to 3 engage in expensive and time consuming preparation as immunity determinations should be made 4 at the earliest stages of litigation. In response, Plaintiff contends that Defendants’ motion for 5 summary judgment fails to seek immunity as to many of the claims. Also, Plaintiff asserts that the 6 specific nature of the claims requires discovery to determine material facts that are in dispute. 7 DISCUSSION 8 The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for automatic or blanket stays of 9 discovery when a potentially dispositive motion is pending. Skellercup Indus. Ltd. V. City of L.A., 10 163 F.R.D. 598 600-01 (C.D. Cal 1995) (finding that a stay of discovery is directly at odds with the 11 need for expeditious resolution of litigation. Ordinarily a pending dispositive motion is not “a 12 situation that in and of itself would warrant a stay of discovery.” See Turner Broadcasting System, 13 Inc. v. Tracinda Corp., 175 F.R.D. 554, 555-56 (D. Nev. 1997) (quoting Twin City Fire Ins. v. 14 Employers Insurance of Wausau, 124 F.R.D. 652, 653 (D.Nev. 1989)). Common examples of such 15 situations are when jurisdiction, venue, or immunity are preliminary issues. Id. Ultimately, the 16 party seeking the stay “carries the heavy burden of making a ‘strong showing’ why discovery 17 should be denied.” Id. (citing Blankenship v. Hearst Corp., 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th Cir.1975)). 18 Courts have broad discretionary power to control discovery including the decision to allow 19 or deny discovery. See e.g., Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988). An overly 20 lenient standard for granting motions to stays due to pending dispositive motions would result in 21 unnecessary delay in many cases. That discovery may involve inconvenience and expense is not 22 sufficient to support a stay of discovery. Turner Broadcasting, 175 F.R.D. at 556.1 Rather, a stay 23 of discovery should only be ordered if the court is convinced that a plaintiff will be unable to state a 24 claim for relief. See Tradebay, LLC v. eBay, Inc., 278 F.R.D. 597, 603 (D. Nev. 2011). 25 The Court finds that the Defendants have not made the strong showing necessary to support 26 27 1 28 As noted in Tradebay, “[t]he fact that a non-frivolous motion is pending is simply not enough to warrant a blanket stay of all discovery.” 278 F.R.D. at 603. 2 1 the requested stay. Defendants stress the importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest 2 possible stage in litigation. See Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009). However, Defendants 3 did not specifically articulate why immunity applies to all of Plaintiff’s federal and state law claims 4 in the motion for summary judgment. Additionally, Nye County Defendants Anthony Demeo, and 5 John Peter Hegge did not provide substantive arguments regarding why they are entitled to 6 immunity. A stay of discovery is inappropriate for parties for whom immunity was not argued or 7 sought. 8 Moreover, the immunity issues raised in the motion for summary judgment involve 9 conflicting versions of facts. Plaintiff argues that discovery is necessary to obtain relevant 10 information to assist her in opposing the motion for summary judgment. A stay of discovery would 11 prevent her from addressing the material facts that are in dispute. This is unlike the situation in 12 Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681 (9th Cir. 1988) where a stay furthered the goal of efficiency as 13 discovery could not have affected the immunity issues raised in the motion for summary judgment. 14 Finally, the Court notes that the Defendants did not meet with Plaintiff prior to filing the 15 motion to stay in accordance with Local Rule 26-7. Without information from such a consultation, 16 the Court lacks the ability to assess the breadth of the discovery and the prejudice, if any, that a 17 defendant will suffer in responding to the Plaintiff’s interrogatories and requests for production. 18 See Brooks v. Macy’s, Inc., 2010 WL 5297756, *2 (S.D.N.Y. 2010). Accordingly, 19 20 21 IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that State Defendants’ Motion to Stay Discovery Pending Court’s Ruling on Motion for Summary Judgment (#65) is denied. DATED this 23rd day of July, 2012. 22 23 24 ______________________________________ C.W. Hoffman, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge 25 26 27 28 3

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