United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING (1) DEFENDANT
JESSICA LORENTZ'S MOTION TO STAY CASE PENDING OUTCOME OF
CRIMINAL CASE (DOCKET NO. 27) AND (2) DEFENDANT JESSICA
LORENTZ'S MOTION TO VACATE AND RESET STATUS\ CONFERENCE
(DOCKET NO. 28)
MICHAEL J. WATANABE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
case is before the Court pursuant to a Memorandum (Docket No.
30) referring the subject motions (Docket Nos. 27 & 28)
entered by Chief Judge Marcia S. Krieger on March 5, 2018.
Now before the Court is (1) Defendant Jessica Lorentz's
Motion to Stay Case Pending Outcome of Criminal Case (Docket
No. 27) (the “Motion to Stay”) and (2) Defendant
Jessica Lorentz's Motion to Vacate and Reset Status
Conference (Docket No. 28). 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 order.
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 March 30, 2006) (unpublished).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.
case, Defendant Lorentz explains that Defendant Nickal has
been charged with the murder of his wife, who is the decedent
in this interpleader case. (Docket No. 27 at 2). According to
Defendant Lorentz, Defendant Nickal “has plead not
guilty by reason of insanity and impaired mental condition to
the charges against him.” (Id.) Defendant
Lorentz asks the Court to stay this civil action while the
criminal case against Defendant Nickal proceeds. As she
notes, “disposition of the Criminal Case, including the
outcome of any of Defendant's rights of appeal, will
determine which party is entitled to the proceeds of
the” insurance policy at issue in the instant action.
(Id. at 3).
Constitution does not generally require a stay of civil
proceedings pending the outcome of criminal proceedings,
absent substantial prejudice to a party's rights.”
Creative Consumer Concepts, Inc. v. Kreisler, 563
F.3d 1070, 1080 (10th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted); see
also Ben Ezra Weinstein & Co., Inc. v. Am. Online,
Inc., 206 F.3d 980, 987 (10th Cir. 2000) (“[w]hen
applying for a stay, a party must demonstrate a clear case of
hardship or inequity”) (citations and internal
quotations omitted). “When deciding whether the
interests of justice seem to require a stay, the court must
consider the extent to which a party's Fifth Amendment
rights are implicated . . . . A defendant has no absolute
right not to be forced to choose between testifying in a
civil matter and asserting his Fifth Amendment
privilege.” Creative Consumer Concepts, Inc.,
563 F.3d at 1080 (citations omitted). “A district court
may also stay a civil proceeding in deference to a parallel
criminal proceeding for other reasons, such as to prevent
either party from taking advantage of broader civil discovery
rights or to prevent the exposure of the criminal defense
strategy to the prosecution.” Id. at 1080-81.
courts consider the following factors “[w]hen
exercising [their] discretion to stay a case in light of
pending criminal matters”:
(1) the extent to which the issues in the criminal case
overlap with those presented in the civil case;
(2) the status of the [criminal] case, including whether the
defendants have been indicted;
(3) the private interests of the plaintiffs in proceeding
expeditiously weighed against the prejudice to plaintiffs
caused by the delay;
(4) the private interests of and burden on the defendants;
(5) the interests of the courts; and
(6) the public interest.
Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Next Generation Energy, LLC,
No. 14-cv-01580-REB-KLM, 2014 WL 7251678 at *2 (D. Colo. Dec.
19, 2014) (quoting In re CFS-Related Secs. Fraud
Litig., 256 F.Supp.2d 1227, 1236-37 (N.D. Okla. 2003));
see also Brancato v. Panio, No. 12-cv-02338-MSK-MEH,
2012 WL 6137472, at *2-*3 (D. Colo. Dec. 7, 2012) (weighing
the same factors as set forth in U.S. S.E.C. v.
Trujillo, No. 09-cv-00403-MSK-KMT, 2010 WL 2232388, at
*2 (D. Colo. Jun. 1, 2010)).
the Court agrees with Defendant Lorentz that a stay is
appropriate. As noted above, this is an interpleader case in
which the only question to be answered is how the insurance
policy proceeds should be directed after the death of the
decedent. Further, Plaintiff's motion requesting
permission to deposit the funds into the Court's Registry
and to be dismissed from the action (Docket No. 19) was
granted by Judge Krieger on February 6, 2018 (Docket No. 25).
As a result, engaging in discovery in this case would only
serve to deplete the assets of the estate at issue. This