McClellan v.City Of New York , et al
OPINION: After examination of the interests at stake, it appears that the balance ofthe parties' divergent interests weighs in favor of McLellan. Accordingly, the City's motion for a stay is denied. (As further set forth in this Order) (Signed by Judge Thomas P. Griesa on 1/8/2016) (kl)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
15 Civ. 6759 (TPG)
CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL.,
Before the court is the City of New York's request to stay the abovecaptioned action, and plaintiff counsel's opposition to the City's request to stay.
The City's request for a stay is denied.
Plaintiff Hakeem McLellan filed this§ 1983 action following his arrests by
NYPD officers on March 13, 2015 and April 6, 2015 in the Bronx.
claims he was falsely arrested and imprisoned on both occasions.
During the March 13 arrest, McLellan was arrested for robbery and assault
at the same time as certain young men were arrested.
The Bronx District
Attorney's office deferred prosecution of McLellan but proceeded on criminal
charges against one of the other arrestees, Shawn Reid.
The Bronx DA asked the City to request a stay of this action pending
disposition of the criminal matter against Reid. The City did request the stay.
McLellan opposes this request.
The issue before the court is whether to stay McLellan's pending civil
action while a non-parallel criminal action is ongoing. Courts in this circuit have
held that civil and criminal cases need not be perfectly "parallel" in order to be
related so as to justify a stay. See United States v. Banco Cafetero Intern., 107
F.R.D. 361, 365 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) (although cases cannot be related where
"parties, issues, and relevant facts and transaction are different ... [,] identity
of issues and parties between criminal and civil case may not be necessary''),
aff'd, 797 F.2d 1154, 1163 (2d Cir. 1986). However, a stay of a civil case is an
extraordinary remedy. Jackson v. Johnson, 985 F. Supp. 422, 424 (S.D.N.Y.
In determining whether to stay a civil proceeding pending the outcome of
a related criminal case, courts consider a number of factors, including: the extent
to which the issues in the criminal case overlap with those presented in the civil
case; the status of the criminal case, including whether the defendants have
been indicted; the private interests of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously
weighed against the prejudice to the plaintiff caused by the delay; the private
interests of and burden on the defendants; the interests of the courts; and the
See Hicks v. City of New York, 268 F. Supp. 2d 238, 241
(E.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing cases).
Generally, stays are unlikely to issue in cases where there is no evidence
constitutional rights, see id., or where there has not yet been any indictment
against the defendant, see, e.g., Paine, Webber, Jackson & Curtis Inc. v. Malon
S. Andrus, Inc., 486 F. Supp. 1118, 1119 (S.D.N.Y. 1980).
A. Overlap of Issues
As stated earlier, McClellan claims that members of the NYPD falsely
arrested and imprisoned him on March 13 and April 6, 2015. In the criminal
action that forms the basis of the Bronx DA's stay request, McClellan is not a
defendant. Rather, the defendant in the criminal action was merely arrested at
the same time that McLellan was arrested.
McLellan's § 1983 suit has some
relation to the Bronx criminal matter only as to the timing of the arrests.
"Although the Government's argument in favor of a stay is not as
compelling when the claimant is not a criminal defendant or a potential target of
a criminal investigation, the considerations supporting a stay remain the same
where the claimant is a relative or associate of the criminal defendant." United
States v. Leasehold Interests in 118 Ave. D, Apartment 2A, 754 F. Supp. 282,
289 (E.D.N.Y. 1990). The City does not indicate that McLellan is the target of an
ongoing criminal investigation. Moreover, McLellan's § 1983 case deals with two
alleged occasions of false arrest and false imprisonment-one on March 13, 2015
and one on April6, 2015. From the parties' descriptions, the state's case against
Reid is only relevant to McLellan insofar as the men were arrested together on
March 13. Reid does not seem to directly figure into the April 6 arrest.
The City does not convincingly argue that Reid and McLellan's cases are
parallel or strongly related, and it is unclear to the court how discovery on
McLellan's April6 arrest would prejudice the city at all in Reid's case. This factor
tips in favor of McLellan's opposition to the stay.
B. Status of Criminal Case
As noted above, courts are more likely to stay a pending civil action where
the civil litigant has been indicted in a parallel criminal case.
Here, it is
important to note at the outset that there has been no indictment of McLellan.
Instead, the Bronx DA deferred prosecution of McLellan. Reid, who was arrested
alongside McLellan, has been indicted and trial is expected to proceed within the
next few months.
The City has also not made any particular showing of harm or prejudice
to the related criminal trial in the event discovery requests were complied with
in McLellan's case. For this reason, and because McLellan has not been indicted,
this factor, too, tips in favor of McLellan's opposition to the stay.
C. Private & Public Interests
Prevailing law in this district holds that a plaintiff should not be delayed
in diligently proceeding with his claim unless the party moving for a stay would
otherwise suffer undue prejudice or its constitutional rights would be violated
without a stay. The City's arguments are weak on these fronts. It does not argue
that plaintiff McLellan is attempting to abuse the discovery process by accessing
documents in the civil context he would otherwise be denied in the criminal
context. Rather, the City's argument relates to some speculative disadvantage
that might befall the unrelated prosecution of Reid.
If the Court granted the
present motion, it would unnecessarily delay resolution of this case.
After examination of the interests at stake, it appears that the balance of
the parties' divergent interests weighs in favor of McLellan. Accordingly, the
City's motion for a stay is denied.
Dated: New York, New York
January 8, 2016
Thomas P. Griesa
U.S. District Judge
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