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Watkins v. Breneman

United States District Court, D. Colorado

March 5, 2015

KENNETH WATKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAN BRENEMAN, individually and in his official capacity as Detective, and CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, COLORADO, Defendants.

ORDER

KRISTEN L. MIX, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Unopposed Motion to Stay Discovery [#23] (the "Motion"). Defendants seek a stay of discovery in this matter until the pending Motion to Dismiss [#18] is resolved by the Senior Judge.

Although the stay of proceedings in a case is generally disfavored, the Court has discretion to stay discovery while a dispositive motion is pending. See Wason Ranch Corp. v. Hecla Mining Co., No. 07-cv-00267-EWN-MEH, 2007 WL 1655362, at *1 (D. Colo. June 6, 2007) ("A stay of all discovery is generally disfavored in this District." (citation omitted)); String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 1:02-cv-01934-LTB-PAC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar. 30, 2006) (finding that a thirty day stay of discovery was appropriate when a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction was pending); Nankivil v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 216 F.R.D. 689, 692 (M.D. Fla. 2003) (A stay may be appropriate if "resolution of a preliminary motion may dispose of the entire action."); 8 Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 2040, at 521-22 (2d ed. 1994) ("[W]hen one issue may be determinative of a case, the court has discretion to stay discovery on other issues until the critical issue has been decided."); Vivid Techs., Inc. v. Am. Sci. & Eng'g, Inc., 200 F.3d 795, 804 (Fed. Cir. 1999) ("When a particular issue may be dispositive, the court may stay discovery concerning other issues until the critical issue is resolved."); Gilbert v. Ferry, 401 F.3d 411, 415-16 (6th Cir. 2005) (finding that ordering a stay of discovery is not an abuse of discretion when a defendant has filed a motion to dismiss challenging the court's actual subject matter jurisdiction); Chavous v. D.C. Fin. Responsibility & Mgmt. Assistance Auth., 201 F.R.D. 1, 2 (D.D.C. 2005) ("A stay of discovery pending the determination of a dispositive motion is an eminently logical means to prevent wasting the time and effort of all concerned, and to make the most efficient use of judicial resources." (internal quotation omitted)).

When exercising its discretion, the Court considers the following factors: (1) the interest of the plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously with discovery and the potential prejudice to the plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the defendants of proceeding with discovery; (3) the convenience to the Court of staying discovery; (4) the interests of nonparties in either staying or proceeding with discovery; and (5) the public interest in either staying or proceeding with discovery. String Cheese Incident, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (citing FDIC v. Renda, No. 85-2216-O, 1987 WL 348635, at *2 (D. Kan. Aug. 6, 1987)).

In this case, staying discovery would not prejudice Plaintiff, as Plaintiff agrees to the stay. The Court finds that the first String Cheese Incident factor weighs in favor of staying discovery.

With regard to the second factor, the Court finds that Defendants have demonstrated that proceeding with the discovery process presents an undue burden. Defendants are correct that proceeding will be wasteful if the Senior Judge grants their Motion to Dismiss [#18]. If the Motion to Dismiss [#18] is resolved in favor of Defendants, any further expenditure would be for naught. Further, the defense of qualified immunity is available to 1) individual governmental officials, but not governmental entities; 2) regarding claims for monetary damages, but not claims for injunctive or declaratory relief; and 3) regarding claims against individual governmental officials in their individual capacities, not their official capacities. Rome, 225 F.R.D. at 643 (citations omitted). Here, Defendant Alan Breneman asserts that he is entitled to the qualified immunity defense, because he is a government official, because Plaintiff seeks damages against him, and because Plaintiff asserts claims against him in his individual capacity. Compl. [#1]. Based on these considerations and strong Supreme Court and Tenth Circuit precedent regarding assertions of qualified immunity and discovery, the Court finds that the second String Cheese Incident factor weighs heavily in favor of staying discovery.

With regard to the third factor, it is certainly more convenient for the Court to stay discovery until it is clear that the case will proceed. See Chavous, 201 F.R.D. at 5 (stating that staying discovery pending decision on a dispositive motion that would fully resolve the case "furthers the ends of economy and efficiency, since if [the motion] is granted, there will be no need for [further proceedings].").

With regard to the fourth factor, there are no nonparties with significant particularized interests in this case. Accordingly, the fourth String Cheese Incident factor neither weighs in favor nor against staying discovery.

With regard to the fifth and final factor, the Court finds that the public's only interest in this case is a general interest in its efficient and just resolution. Avoiding wasteful efforts by the Court clearly serves this interest. Thus, the fifth String Cheese Incident factor weighs in favor of staying discovery.

Weighing the relevant factors, the Court concludes that staying discovery pending resolution of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [#18] is appropriate. Accordingly,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion [#23] is GRANTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all discovery is stayed pending resolution of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [#18].


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