United States District Court, D. Colorado
KATHLEEN M TAFOYA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on “Defendants' Motion
to Stay Discovery Pending Resolution of Dispositive
Motion” (Doc. No. 62, filed January 26, 2018).
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Eighth Amendment claims. (Doc.
No. 7.) Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the claims
arguing, inter alia, that they are entitled to
qualified immunity. (Doc. No. 46.) Defendants now move for a
stay of discovery in this action until it is determined, by
way of a ruling on their motion to dismiss, whether they are
entitled to qualified immunity.
provisions, whether qualified, absolute or pursuant to the
Eleventh Amendment, are meant to free officials from the
concerns of litigation, including avoidance of disruptive
discovery. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 685
(2009) (citing Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 236
(1991) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment)); see also
Workman v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 332, 335 (10th Cir. 1992)
(noting that qualified immunity, if successful, protects an
official both from liability and the ordinary burdens of
litigation, including far-ranging discovery) (citing
Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 817-18 (1982)).
As explained by the Court in Iqbal, there are
serious and legitimate reasons for this protection:
If a Government official is to devote time to his or her
duties, and to the formulation of sound and responsible
policies, it is counterproductive to require the substantial
diversion that is attendant to participating in litigation
and making informed decisions as to how it should proceed.
Litigation, though necessary to ensure that officials comply
with the law, exacts heavy costs in terms of efficiency and
expenditure of valuable time and resources that might
otherwise be directed to the proper execution of the work of
the Government. The costs of diversion are only magnified
when Government officials are charged with responding to [the
burdens of litigation discovery].
Id. at 685.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not expressly provide for
a stay of proceedings.
String Cheese Incident, LLC v. Stylus Shows, Inc.,
02-CV-01934-LTB-PA, 2006 WL 894955, at *2 (D. Colo. March 30,
2006). Fed.R.Civ.P. 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 . . . .
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. N. 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
“a court may decide that in a particular case it would
be wise to stay discovery on the merits until [certain
challenges] have been resolved.” 8A Charles Alan
Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2040, at 198 (3d ed.
2010). Although a stay of all discovery is generally
disfavored, see Bustos v. U.S., 257 F.R.D. 617, 623
(D. Colo. 2009), 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
also Vivid Techs., Inc. v. Am. Sci. & Eng'r,
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
considering a stay of discovery, this court considers: (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 ...