United States District Court, D. Colorado
DELMART E.J.M. VREELAND, II, Plaintiff,
DESIREE VIGIL, THEODORE LAURENCE, and JAMMIE FELLHAUER, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY AND TO VACATE STATUS
CONFERENCE [ECF. #28]
KATO CREWS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
order addresses Defendants Desiree Vigil, Theodore Laurence,
and Jammie Fellhauer's (collectively,
“Defendants”) Motion to Stay Discovery and to
Vacate Status Conference [ECF. #28] (the
“Motion”). The Court has carefully considered the
Motion, Plaintiff Delmart E.J.M. Vreeland II's
(“Vreeland”) Response [ECF. #30], the case file
and applicable case law, and has determined that oral
argument would not materially assist the Court. For the
following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED
brings this action against Defendants in their individual
capacities. [ECF. #4 at pp. 2-4.] Construed liberally,
Vreeland's Amended Complaint asserts three claims against
each Defendant: (1) an Eighth Amendment claim asserted under
42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) a medical malpractice claim under
Colorado tort law; and (3) injunctive relief for “an
order demanding surgery to remove the scrotal mass or
masses.” [See generally id.] This Court
has federal question jurisdiction of the Eighth Amendment
claim and supplemental jurisdiction over the medical
malpractice claim and request for injunctive relief.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1367(a).
Supreme Court has held that government officials asserting
qualified immunity have a right to “avoid the burdens
of ‘such pretrial maters as discovery . . .
.'” Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299,
308 (1996) (citation omitted). Accordingly, the Court is
obligated to “exercise its discretion so that officials
[properly asserting qualified immunity] are not subjected to
unnecessary and burdensome discovery or trial
proceedings.” Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S.
574, 597-98 (1998). However, an assertion of qualified
immunity “is not a bar to all discovery.”
Rome v. Romero, 225 F.R.D. 640, 643 (D. Colo. 2004).
Indeed, there are certain circumstances when discovery is
permissible despite an assertion of qualified immunity,
including cases requesting injunctive (as opposed to
monetary) relief. See Id. Additionally, when
qualified immunity has not been raised until the filing of a
motion for summary judgment, permitting discovery may be
appropriate. Id. at 643-44.
request a stay of discovery and that the Court vacate a
Status Conference set for June 28, 2019, until, in part, the
qualified immunity defenses raised in their motion to dismiss
[ECF. #20] are resolved. [See generally ECF. #28.]
All Defendants are identified in their personal capacities
only, and each asserts a qualified immunity defense to
Vreeland's section 1983 Eighth Amendment claim.
[See ECF. #4.] If granted, the Motion to Dismiss
would dispose of the sole claim establishing the Court's
original jurisdiction. Dismissal of the Eighth Amendment
claim would require that the Court assess the appropriateness
of continuing its exercise of supplemental jurisdiction over
any claims that may survive the motion to dismiss.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
Court's broad discretion to stay proceedings is
incidental to its power to control its own docket. See
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706-07 (1997). Questions
of jurisdiction and immunity should be resolved at the
earliest stages of litigation, so as to conserve the time and
resources of the Court and the parties. See Behrens,
516 U.S. at 308-10 (noting that discovery can be particularly
disruptive when a dispositive motion regarding immunity is
the early filing of the motion to dismiss based on qualified
immunity and jurisdiction, that the suit is filed for money
damages against defendants named in their individual
capacities, and that Plaintiff's request for injunctive
relief, on its face, may be rendered moot, the Court finds
that the circumstances evaluated in Rome are
inapplicable in the case at hand. Accordingly, the Court
finds that a temporary stay of discovery as to all Defendants
is appropriate, pending resolution of the motion to dismiss.
See Moore v. Busby, 92 Fed.Appx. 699, 702 (10th Cir.
2004) (affirming trial court's stay of discovery pending
resolution of immunity question).
the Court's finding above, it finds the Motion lacks good
cause to vacate the status conference set for June 28, 2019.
The status conference is necessary to discuss the briefing of
the motion to dismiss, specifically, Vreeland's failure
to file a timely response. Therefore, the status conference
shall remain as set.
reasons stated above, IT IS ORDERED that Defendants Motion
[ECF. #28] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
as to all Defendants is stayed, pending resolution of the
motion to dismiss. However, the Status Conference set for