United States District Court, D. Colorado
T. BABCOCK, JUDGE.
civil rights case is before me on a motion to stay filed by
Defendants Nancy Kroll and Steve Reams (ECF No. 81) and
joined by Defendants Correct Care Solutions and Margo Geppert
(ECF No. 83). Sheriff Reams and Ms. Kroll ask this Court to
stay the case pending resolution of their pending motions to
dismiss based on qualified immunity. (ECF Nos. 81, 83.) While
they do not assert a qualified immunity defense, Correct Care
Solutions and Ms. Geppert propose staying the entire case in
the interests of judicial economy and to avoid wasting
resources. (ECF No. 83.) Defendants Greg Tharp and Wes Doney
do not oppose the stay motion. (ECF No. 93.)
Jay Frey opposes the stay request, and instead proposes
limited discovery aimed at ascertaining whether Sheriff Reams
and Ms. Kroll are entitled to qualified immunity. (ECF No.
considering the parties' briefs, I conclude that a stay
pending resolution of the motions to dismiss is appropriate.
I accordingly GRANT the motion to stay (ECF No. 81.)
described the allegations in the third amended complaint (ECF
No. 48-1) in more detail in an earlier order (ECF No. 71),
and I only briefly recount them here.
Frey alleges that Officers Tharp and Doney used excessive
force when they arrested him, ultimately leaving him blind in
his right eye and causing other permanent injuries. He also
alleges that Sheriff Reams, Ms. Kroll, Correct Care
Solutions, and Margo Geppert provided inadequate medical
treatment while he was in jail, and that all the defendants
were negligent during his arrest, custody, and care.
defendants have moved to wholly or partially dismiss the case
on various grounds. (ECF Nos. 78-80.) In their motion to
dismiss, Ms. Kroll and Sheriff Reams argue they are entitled
to qualified immunity. (ECF No. 80.) In light of their
qualified immunity defense, Ms. Kroll and Sheriff Reams have
asked to stay the case, including any discovery, pending the
outcome of their motion. (ECF No. 81).
the federal rules do not expressly provide for a stay of
proceedings, “the 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.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S.
248, 254-55 (1936). A court therefore has the discretion to
stay proceedings, including discovery, if the stay is
warranted under the particular circumstances of the case.
immunity is not only a defense to liability but also
entitlement to immunity from suit and other demands of
litigation. Discovery should not be allowed until the court
resolves the threshold question whether the law was clearly
established at the time the allegedly unlawful action
occurred.” Workman v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 332,
336 (10th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Accordingly, if a
defendant asserts qualified immunity defense, the defendant
is likely entitled to a stay of discovery until the qualified
immunity question is resolved. See Jiron v. City of
Lakewood, 392 F.3d 410, 414 (10th Cir. 2004)
(“Even such pretrial matters as discovery are to be
avoided if possible, as inquiries of this kind can be
peculiarly disruptive of effective government.”
(alteration and quotation omitted)); Workman, 958
F.2d at 336.
this law, Mr. Frey argues against a stay. (ECF No. 94.) He
argues that I should permit limited discovery related to
Sherriff Reams and Ms. Kroll's qualified immunity defense
and that, in any event, Sherriff Reams and Ms. Kroll are not
entitled to qualified immunity. (Id.) As for the
first argument, this case is at the motion to dismiss stage,
and Mr. Frey does not articulate how any discovery would bear
on a motion to dismiss, which turns on the allegations in the
pleadings. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6); Ruiz
v. McDonnell, 299 F.3d 1173, 1181 (10th Cir. 2002). As
for the second argument, it puts the cart before the horse. I
have not yet resolved whether Sherriff Reams and Ms. Kroll
are entitled to qualified immunity, and until I do, a stay is
appropriate under Tenth Circuit precedent. See
Workman, 958 F.2d at 336.
agree that staying the entire case is appropriate, even
though all the defendants do not raise a qualified immunity
defense. If I permitted discovery to continue as to the other
defendants, it would likely require Sherriff Reams and Ms.
Kroll to participate in the process or risk compromising
their litigation position:
It is quite likely that, when discovery as to the other
parties proceeds, it would prove necessary for petitioners
and their counsel to participate in the process to ensure the
case does not develop in a misleading or slanted way that
causes prejudice to their position. Even if petitioners are
not yet themselves subject ...