Sawyer v. Ingram et al
ORDER granting 50 Motion to Stay Discovery Pending the Resolution of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. Unless they agree otherwise, the parties may not conduct discovery until the court resolves the pending motion to dismiss. If court the denies the motions to dismiss, in whole or in part, the parties mustconfer and submit a Rule 26(f) report within 14 days from the entry of the order on the motion. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert T. Numbers, II on 11/15/2023. A copy of this Order was sent via US mail to Anthony Leon Sawyerat 2715 West Main St. Ext., Elizabeth City, NC 27909. (Collins, S)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
Anthony Leon Sawyer,
Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public
Defendant Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public School System has asked the court to stay
discovery-related matters until the court resolves its pending motions to dismiss. D.E. 50. The
motion to stay contends that the resolution of the motion to dismiss could conclude the action
entirely. So some of the time and expense attendant to discovery may be unnecessary. Plaintiff
does not consent to the motion to stay (D.E. 50 ¶ 5) but he has filed no submission in opposition.
“A motion to stay discovery is tantamount to a request for a protective order prohibiting or
limiting discovery pursuant to Rule 26(c).” Kron Med. Corp. v. Groth, 119 F.R.D. 636, 637
(M.D.N.C. 1988). Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure gives the court, among other
things, the authority to issue a protective order staying discovery while it resolves a motion to
dismiss. Tilley v. United States, 270 F. Supp. 2d 731, 734 (M.D.N.C. 2003); Fed. R. Civ. P.
26(c)(1)(B) & (D). As with all protective orders, the moving party must show good cause for the
court to issue the order. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1).
With no guidance from the Fourth Circuit, district courts have looked at several factors
when considering whether to grant a motion to stay discovery. Among them are whether the
motion, if granted, would dispose of the entire case, Simpson v. Specialty Retail Concepts, Inc.,
121 F.R.D. 261, 263 (M.D.N.C. 1988), the strength of the motion’s arguments, Tilley, 270 F. Supp.
2d at 734–35; and whether discovery is necessary for the non-moving party to respond to the
motion, id. at 734. But, at bottom, the court must “balance the harm produced by a delay in
discovery against the possibility that the motion will be granted and entirely eliminate the need for
such discovery.” Simpson, 121 F.R.D. at 263.
Here, balancing these factors supports granting the motion to stay. Until the court disposes
of the pending motion to dismiss, it is uncertain what discovery may be required. The resolution
of the pending motion may eliminate the need for discovery. Defendant has offered plausible
arguments in support of the motion to dismiss. Plaintiff has submitted a letter to the court but
offered no formal grounds to contest the motion. On the other side of the ledger are the costs of
discovery, which could be substantial.
It is an open question whether the court will grant the motion to dismiss. If the motion is
granted, even in part, some or all the time and resources devoted to discovery may be for naught.
Given the nature of the action, delaying discovery will not prejudice either side’s ability to pursue
its claims or defenses should the court deny the motion to dismiss.
After balancing the relevant factors, the court finds that the Defendant has shown good
cause to stay discovery. So the court grants the motion to stay (D.E. 50) and orders that, unless
they agree otherwise, the parties may not conduct discovery until the court resolves the pending
motion to dismiss. If court the denies the motions to dismiss, in whole or in part, the parties must
confer and submit a Rule 26(f) report within 14 days from the entry of the order on the motion.
United States Magistrate Judge
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