Biricik v. Zwifelhofer et al

Filing 23

ORDER granting 17 Motion to Stay discovery. Signed by Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr on 6/9/2014. Counsel should read order in its entirety for critical deadlines and information. (Marsh, K)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA SOUTHERN DIVISION No. 7:14-CV-00067-BR SEAN DANIEL BIRICIK, Plaintiff, V. JED ZWIFELHOFER, W AL-MART STORES EAST L.P., and WAL-MART STORES INC., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ORDER This matter is before the court regarding Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery. [DE-17]. In this motion, Defendants request that all obligations under the court's Order for Discovery Plan [DE-13], as well as all discovery, be stayed pending the court's ruling on Plaintiffs Motion to Remand [D E-14] and Defendants' Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [DE-1 0]. Plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion. [DE-22]. Having carefully considered the motion, the record, Plaintiffs objection to the motion, and applicable authority, the motion to stay will be allowed. Rule 26( c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure grants a court authority to issue an order limiting or staying discovery. Specifically, a court has discretion to stay discovery pending resolution of dispositive motions filed in a case. See Tilley v. United States, 270 F. Supp. 2d 731, 734 (M.D.N.C. 2003). In certain cases, a stay of discovery may be appropriate to prevent a waste oftime and resources by the parties. See United States v. A.T Massey Coal Co., No. 2:07-0299, 2007 WL 3051449, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. Oct. 18, 2007). '"Factors favoring issuance of a stay include the potential for the dispositive motion to terminate all the claims in the case or all the claims against particular defendants, strong support for the dispositive motion on the merits, and irrelevancy of the discovery at issue to the dispositive motion."' Yongo v. Nationwide Affinity Ins. Co. ofAmerica, No. 5:07-CV-94-D, 2008 WL 516744, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 25, 2008) (quoting Tilley, 270 F. Supp. 2d at 735). Here, the factors weigh in favor of implementing a stay. First, Plaintiff has sought to have this case remanded to state court. In the event of remand, the need for a discovery plan in conformity with the Federal Rules and Local Rules of this court is obviated. Next, while Defendants' motion is one for partial judgment on the pleadings, it seeks dismissal of multiple claims and may result in a substantial narrowing of the issues for discovery. See Ramirez-Rodriguez v. Wal-Mart Sore East, L.P., No. 5:12-CV-585-BO, Order [DE-40] (E.D.N.C. Feb. 28, 2013) (allowing motion to stay discovery where allowance of defendant's pending motion for partial dismissal of the complaint would result in dismissal of all but one of plaintiffs claims). Finally, the pending motions have been fully briefed and, thus, the discovery at issue is irrelevant to the dispositive motions. While Plaintiffs argument-that any discovery conducted in this case can be utilized in the state court case in the event of remand-has some appeal, it is insufficient to overcome the aforementioned factors weighing in favor of a stay. Likewise, Plaintiffs concerns regarding disappearing evidence are assuaged by Defendants' obligation to preserve material evidence. See Silvestri v. Gen. Motors Corp., 271 F.3d 583, 591 (4th Cir. 2001) ("The duty to preserve material evidence arises not only during litigation but also extends to that period before the litigation when a party reasonably should know that the evidence may be relevant to anticipated litigation.") (citing Kronisch v. United States, 150 F.3d 112, 126 (2d Cir.l998)). Accordingly, for good cause shown, Defendants' request to stay discovery is allowed, and 2 all obligations under the court's Order for Discovery Plan, as well as all discovery, are stayed pending the court's ruling on Plaintiffs Motion to Remand and Defendants' Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. In the event the court denies the motion to remand, counsel shall confer regarding a Rule 26(f) discovery plan within fourteen (14) days after the court's ruling on the Defendants' Partial Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and within seven (7) days thereafter file a proposed discovery plan and exchange mandatory initial disclosures. SO ORDERED, the 9 day of June 2014. Rbbert~: United States Magistrate Judge 3

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