United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO STAY
MICHAEL E. HEGARTY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
initiated this diversity action on September 6, 2017 alleging
claims of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and
outrageous conduct against Tumpkin, a former University of
Colorado (“CU”) assistant football coach, and
claims of negligence and civil conspiracy against CU
officials MacIntyre (head football coach), George (athletic
director), DiStefano (chancellor), and Benson (president)
(collectively, the “CU
Defendants”). See Comp., ECF No. 1. Tumpkin
filed an answer in response to the Complaint, but the CU
Defendants filed motions to dismiss primarily arguing that
they enjoy absolute immunity from suit pursuant to the
Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (“CGIA”).
Mots., ECF Nos. 16, 17. With their replies to the motions to
dismiss, the CU Defendants filed a motion to stay these
proceedings pending resolution of the immunity issue. ECF No.
38. The following day, Tumpkin filed his motion to stay
proceedings pending resolution of a “parallel state
criminal action.” ECF No. 43. The motions to stay have
been referred to this Court for resolution and, for the
following reasons, the Court grants both motions.
decision to stay discovery rests within the sound discretion
of the trial court. Wang v. Hsu, 919 F.2d 130, 130
(10th Cir.1990). The Court's discretion to stay
proceedings arises from its power to control its own docket.
See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706-07 (1997)
(citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254, 57
S.Ct. 163, 81 L.Ed. 153 (1936)). The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure do not expressly provide for a stay of proceedings;
however, Rule 26(c) does permit the court, upon a showing of
good cause, to “protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).
CU Defendants' Motion to Stay
questions regarding the court's subject matter
jurisdiction should be resolved as early as possible in the
litigation, before incurring the burdens of discovery.
See Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 308, 310
(1996) (noting that discovery can be particularly disruptive
when a dispositive motion regarding immunity is pending);
Moore v. Busby, 92 F. App'x 699, 702 (10th Cir.
2004) (affirming trial court's stay of discovery pending
resolution of absolute immunity question); Albright v.
Rodriguez, 51 F.3d 1531, 1534 (10th Cir. 1995)
(“the Supreme Court has repeatedly ‘stressed the
importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest
possible stage in litigation.'” (citation
Defendants raise immunity under the Colorado Governmental
Immunity Act (“CGIA”). Pursuant to the CGIA,
If a public employee raises the issue of sovereign immunity
prior to or after the commencement of discovery, the court
shall suspend discovery; except that any discovery necessary
to decide the issue of sovereign immunity shall be allowed to
proceed, and the court shall decide such issue on motion. The
court's decision on such motion shall be a final judgment
and shall be subject to interlocutory appeal.
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-10-118(2.5). “Such a rule
comports with the CGIA's purpose of ‘protect[ing]
the government from excessive fiscal burdens, which include
not only the cost of judgments against the government but the
costs of unnecessary litigation as well.'”
Chambers v. Bd. of Cnty. Comm'rs of Cnty. of
Eagle, No. 13-cv-00393-REB-MEH, 2013 WL 4052397, at *2
(D. Colo. Aug. 12, 2013) (quoting Finnie v. Jefferson
Cnty. Sch. Dist. R-1, 79 P.3d 1253, 1259 (Colo. 2003)
and granting motions to stay filed by entity and
exercising its discretion to enter a stay, the Court
considers the following factors: (1) the interest of the
plaintiff in proceeding expeditiously and the potential
prejudice to the plaintiff of a delay; (2) the burden on the
defendants; (3) the convenience to the Court; (4) the
interests of nonparties; and (5) the public interest.
String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc.,
No. 02-cv-01934-LTB-PAC, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. Mar.
30, 2006); see also Golden Quality Ice Cream Co. v.
Deerfield Speciality Papers, Inc., 87 F.R.D. 53, 56
(E.D. Pa. 1980).
weighing the factors for determining the propriety of a stay,
the Court finds that a temporary stay is appropriate here,
pending adjudication of the motions to dismiss. With respect
to the first and second factors, there can be no doubt that
Plaintiff has an interest in proceeding expeditiously, but
the Court finds that the potential harm to Plaintiff in
briefly awaiting a ruling on the motions is outweighed by the
burden Defendants would bear in requesting and responding to
discovery pending resolution of motions that could remove
them from the case and change the framework and scope of the
while this analysis determines procedure rather than
substance according to the Erie doctrine,
Court finds persuasive the Colorado Supreme Court's
mandate that discovery be suspended. See Colo. Rev.
Stat. § 24-10-118(2.5). The statute's exception -
that discovery necessary to decide the issue of sovereign
immunity should proceed - does not apply here, where the
Plaintiff has already filed responses to the motions to
dismiss and, in so doing, sought no limited discovery for
argues that the CU Defendants' discovery requirements
will be no less burdensome here than as third-party witnesses
to the claims in this matter, and Plaintiff intends to serve
third party discovery on the CU Defendants if they are
dismissed from this action. Resp. 2, 4. But, the Court agrees
with the Defendants that, if they are dismissed from the
case, the action will focus solely on Plaintiff's claims
against Tumpkin, which are separate and apart from the claims
raised against them. In other words, while Plaintiff's
claims against Tumpkin arise from her relationship with him
and from alleged events that occurred during the
relationship, the claims against the CU Defendants arise from
alleged events that occurred after the relationship ended.
See Comp. ¶¶ 64, 68. Dismissal of these
latter claims would change the framework and scope of the
action and, likely, lessen the CU Defendants' discovery
burden. The Court finds the first and second factors weigh in
favor of a stay of the action.
regard to the third factor, the Court finds it more efficient
to stay this action against the CU Defendants until it is
clear that the case will proceed. See Chavous v. Dist. of
Columbia Fin. Responsibility & Mgmt. Assistance
Auth., 201 F.R.D. 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2001) (staying discovery
pending a 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].”). The third factor
weighs in favor of staying this matter.
of the remaining String Cheese factors
(i.e., the interests of nonparties and the public in
general) do not prompt a different result and, thus, weigh
neutrally. On the whole, the Court holds that a temporary
stay of discovery is appropriate pending the resolution ...