United States District Court, D. Colorado
JASON ALAN CAPPELLI, and VINCENT C. TODD, Plaintiffs,
JOHN HICKENLOOPER, Governor of the State of Colorado, RICK RAEMISCH, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, MELISSA ROBERTS, Director of Adult Parole, Colorado Department of Corrections, JIM COOPER, a Community Parole Officer, MATTHEW JAMES STEGNER, a Community Parole Officer, SHEFALI PHILLIPS, a Community Parole Officer, WESLEY TRISSEL, a Community Parole Officer, WILLIAM HOOVER, a Sergeant, Lakewood Police Department, JIMMY TORSAK, a Detective, Lakewood Police Department, MICHAEL GRIFFITH, an Agent, Lakewood Police Department, JANNA SCHMMELS, an Agent, Lakewood Police Department, THEODORE MCNITT, a Commander, Lakewood Police Department, DAN MCCASKY, Chief of Police, Lakewood Police Department, JOHN DOE, an unidentified Agent of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and, JEFF SCHRADER, Sheriff of Jefferson County Colorado, Defendants.
GRANTING DEFENDANTS WILLIAM HOOVER, JIMMY TORSAK, MICHAEL
GRIFFITH, JANNA SCHMMELS, THEODORE MCNITT, AND DAN
MCCASKY'S MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY PURSUANT TO
FED.R.CIV.P. 26(C)(1) PENDING DETERMINATION OF QUALIFIED
IMMUNITY (DOCKET NO. 23)
MICHAEL J. WATANABE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the Court pursuant to an Order (Docket No. 30)
referring the subject motion (Docket No. 23) issued by Judge
Philip A. Brimmer on August 10, 2017. Now before the Court is
Defendants William Hoover, Jimmy Torsak, Michael Griffith,
Janna Schmmels, Theodore McNitt, and Dan McCasky's
(hereinafter “Lakewood Defendants”) Motion to
Stay Discovery Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(C)(1) Pending
Determination of Qualified Immunity (Docket No. 25). The
Court has carefully considered the motion. The Court has
taken judicial notice of the Court's file and has
considered the applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
and case law. The Court now being fully informed makes the
following findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for
a stay of proceedings. See String Cheese Incident, LLC v.
Stylus Shows, Inc., No. 02-cv-01934-LTB-PA, 2006 WL
894955, at *2 (D. Colo. March 30, 2006) (unpublished).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 does, however, provide
that “[a] party or any person from whom discovery is
sought may move for a protective order in the court where the
action is pending . . . . The court may, for good cause,
issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense . . .
.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c). Moreover, “[t]he power to
stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every
court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket
with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants. How this can best be done calls for the
exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests
and maintain an even balance.” Landis v. North Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936) (citing Kansas City
S. Ry. Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 760, 763 (1931)).
An order staying discovery is thus an appropriate exercise of
this Court's discretion. Id.
of all discovery is generally disfavored. Bustos v.
United States, 257 F.R.D. 617, 623 (D. Colo. 2009).
However, courts have routinely recognized that discovery may
be inappropriate while issues of immunity or jurisdiction are
being resolved. See, e.g., Siegert v. Gilley, 500
U.S. 226, 231-32 (1991) (noting that immunity is a threshold
issue, and discovery should not be allowed while the issue is
pending); Workman v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 332, 336 (10th
Cir. 1992) (same). Similarly, a stay may be appropriate if
“resolution of a preliminary motion may dispose of the
entire action.” Nankivil v. Lockheed Martin
Corp., 216 F.R.D. 689, 692 (M.D. Fla. 2003); see
Vivid Techs., Inc. v. Am. Science & Engineering,
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.”). The Supreme Court has established that
evaluating the defense of qualified immunity is a threshold
issue, and “[u]ntil this threshold immunity question is
resolved, discovery should not be allowed.” Siegert
v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 233 (1991) (citing Harlow
v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)); Workman v.
Jordan, 958 F.2d 332, 336 (10th Cir. 1992) (same).
However, the defense of qualified immunity “is not a
bar to all discovery.” Rome v. Romero, 225
F.R.D. 640, 643 (D. Colo. 2004). There are certain
circumstances when discovery is permissible despite an
assertion of qualified immunity, including cases alleging
official-capacity claims, requests for injunctive (as opposed
to monetary) relief, and claims against entities, not
individuals. See Rome, 225 F.R.D. at 643.
Additionally, permitting discovery up until the point that
qualified immunity is raised may be appropriate, particularly
when the defense is not advanced until the filing of a motion
for summary judgment. Id. at 643-44.
considering a stay of discovery, this Court has considered
the following factors: (1) the plaintiff's interests in
proceeding expeditiously with the civil action and the
potential prejudice to plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden
on the defendants; (3) the convenience to the Court; (4) the
interests of persons not parties to the civil litigation; and
(5) the public interest. See String Cheese Incident,
2006 WL 894955, at *2.
the Lakewood Defendants seek to stay all discovery pending
resolution of their motion to dismiss (Docket No.
Defendants argue that a stay of discovery should be ordered
based on their pending motion to dismiss which alleges, among
other things, that Defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity. (See Docket No. 22 at 11-13).
stated above, Defendants raise qualified immunity as a
defense in their pending motion to dismiss. The case is still
in the early stages of litigation; all of the Defendants
responded to Plaintiffs' operative complaint with the
pending motions to dismiss that could fully dispose of
Plaintiffs' claims before engaging in the discovery
process. A balance of the above factors favors a stay in this
matter. Most significantly, the Court finds that the interest
of Plaintiffs to proceed expeditiously is outweighed by the
burden on Defendants of having to participate in discovery
while motions to dismiss that argue that they are immune to
suit are pending. Further, while the Court typically
discourages stays of discovery, the Court acknowledges the
efficiency and fairness of delaying the proceedings pending
resolution of a motion to dismiss that could resolve this
matter in its entirety. See Harris v. United States,
No. 09-cv-02658-PAB-KLM, 2010 WL 1687915, at *1 (D. Colo.
Apr. 27, 2010) (“[n]either [the Court's] nor the
parties' time is well-served by being involved in the
‘struggle over the substance of the suit' when, as
here, a dispositive motion is pending.”) (citations
omitted). Finally, the Court finds that the interests of
non-parties and the public interest do not greatly favor one
for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby
that the ‘Lakewood Defendants Motion to Stay Discovery
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(C)(1) Pending Determination of
Qualified Immunity (Docket No. 23) is GRANTED. Discovery is
STAYED as to all parties until after the undersigned
judge issues a recommendation on Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss (Docket Nos. 20, 22, & 31) or until further Order
of Court. It is further
that the Status Conference set on August 22, 2017 at 10:00
a.m. Is VACATED.
 The Court may rule on a pending motion
at any time. D.C.COLO.LCivR. ...