Frye v. Wilt et al
MEMORANDUM & ORDER - IT IS ORDERED that the Motion to Stay (Doc. 30), is GRANTED and further discovery is STAYED pending the resolution of any dispositive motions. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, if necessary, the parties will submit a joint proposed revised discovery schedule within 21 days after the resolution of any dispositive motion. 30 Signed by Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson on 6/28/2017. (sc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SGT. WILT, et al.,
(Magistrate Judge Carlson)
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
This prisoner civil rights lawsuit has been assigned to this Court for
Currently there is a motion for summary judgment pending, and
unresolved, in the case. (Doc. 26) In addition, the defendants have filed a motion
to stay discovery pending resolution of this summary judgment motion, which has
not been opposed by the plaintiff. (Doc. 30) For the reasons set forth below we
will STAY further discovery pending resolution of the summary judgment motion
filed in this case.
Several basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant
discovery issues. At the outset rulings regarding the proper scope and timing of
discovery are matters consigned to the court’s discretion and judgment. Thus, it
has long been held that decisions regarding Rule 37 motions are “committed to the
sound discretion of the district court.” DiGregorio v. First Rediscount Corp., 506
F.2d 781, 788 (3d Cir. 1974). Similarly, issues relating to the timing and scope of
discovery permitted under Rule 26 also rest in the sound discretion of the court.
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90 (3d Cir. 1987). Thus, a
court’s decisions regarding the conduct of discovery will be disturbed only upon a
showing of an abuse of discretion. Marroquin-Manriquez v. I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129,
134 (3d Cir. 1983). This far-reaching discretion extends to rulings by United
States Magistrate Judges on discovery matters. In this regard:
District courts provide magistrate judges with particularly broad
discretion in resolving discovery disputes. See Farmers & Merchs.
Nat'l Bank v. San Clemente Fin. Group Sec., Inc., 174 F.R.D. 572,
585 (D.N.J.1997). When a magistrate judge's decision involves a
discretionary [discovery] matter . . . , “courts in this district have
determined that the clearly erroneous standard implicitly becomes an
abuse of discretion standard.” Saldi v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 224
F.R.D. 169, 174 (E.D.Pa.2004) (citing Scott Paper Co. v. United
States, 943 F.Supp. 501, 502 (E.D.Pa.1996)). Under that standard, a
magistrate judge's discovery ruling “is entitled to great deference and
is reversible only for abuse of discretion.” Kresefky v. Panasonic
Commc'ns and Sys. Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64 (D.N.J.1996); see also
Hasbrouck v. BankAmerica Hous. Servs., 190 F.R.D. 42, 44-45
(N.D.N.Y.1999) (holding that discovery rulings are reviewed under
abuse of discretion standard rather than de novo standard); EEOC v.
Mr. Gold, Inc., 223 F.R.D. 100, 102 (E.D.N.Y.2004) (holding that a
magistrate judge's resolution of discovery disputes deserves
substantial deference and should be reversed only if there is an abuse
Halsey v. Pfeiffer, No. 09-1138, 2010 WL 3735702, *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 17, 2010).
We also note that our broad discretion over discovery matters extends to
decisions under Rule 26 relating to the issuance of protective orders limiting and
regulating the timing of discovery. Indeed, it is undisputed that: “ ‘[t]he grant and
nature of [a protective order] is singularly within the discretion of the district court
and may be reversed only on a clear showing of abuse of discretion.’ Galella v.
Onassis, 487 F.2d 986, 997 (2d Cir.1973) (citation omitted).” Dove v. Atlantic
Capital Corp., 963 F.2d 15, 19 (2d Cir. 1992).
This discretion is guided, however, by certain basic principles. One of these
cardinal principles, governing the exercise of discretion in this field, is that the
district court may properly defer or delay discovery while it considers a potentially
dispositive pretrial motion, provided the district court concludes that the pretrial
motion does not, on its face, appear groundless. See, e.g., James v. York County
Police Dep’t, 160 F.App’x 126, 136 (3d Cir. 2005); Nolan v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice,
973 F.2d 843,849 (10th Cir. 1992); Johnson v. New York Univ. Sch. of Ed., 205
F.R.D. 433, 434 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). Briefly deferring discovery in such a case,
while the court determines the threshold issue of whether a complaint has
sufficient merit to go forward, recognizes a simple, fundamental truth: Parties who
file motions which may present potentially meritorious and complete legal
defenses to civil actions should not be put to the time, expense and burden of
factual discovery until after these claimed legal defenses are addressed by the
In such instances, it is clearly established that:
“[A] stay of discovery is appropriate pending resolution of a
potentially dispositive motion where the motion ‘appear[s] to have
substantial grounds' or, stated another way, ‘do[es] not appear to be
without foundation in law.’ ” In re Currency Conversion Fee
Antitrust Litigation, 2002 WL 88278, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2002)
(quoting Chrysler Capital Corp. v. Century Power Corp., 137 F.R.D.
209, 209-10 (S.D.N.Y.1991)) ( citing Flores v. Southern Peru Copper
Corp., 203 F.R.D. 92, 2001 WL 396422, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 19,
2001); Anti-Monopoly, Inc. v. Hasbro, Inc., 1996 WL 101277, at *2
(S.D.N.Y. March 7, 1996)).
Johnson v. New York Univ. School of Educ., 205 F.R.D. 433, 434 (S.D.N.Y.
Guided by these legal tenets we conclude that further discovery should be
briefly stayed at this time until after the Court resolves the pending summary
judgment motion. We reach this conclusion in accordance with settled case law,
“[A] stay of discovery is appropriate pending resolution of a
potentially dispositive motion where the motion ‘appear[s] to have substantial
grounds' or, stated another way, ‘do[es] not appear to be without foundation in
Johnson v. New York Univ. School of Educ., 205 F.R.D. 433, 434
An appropriate order follows:
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, the Motion to Stay (Doc. 30), is
GRANTED and further discovery is STAYED pending the resolution of any
dispositive motions. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, if necessary, the parties
will submit a joint proposed revised discovery schedule within 21 days after the
resolution of any dispositive motion.
So ordered this 28th day of June, 2017.
S/Martin C. Carlson
Martin C. Carlson
United States Magistrate Judge
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