United States District Court, D. Colorado
MARQUISE HARRIS, and ARTESIA CABRAL, individually and as next friend of N.C., a minor child, Plaintiffs,
CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER, CITY OF AURORA, GLENN MAHR, in his individual and official capacities, KEVIN BARNES, in his individual and official capacities, MIKE DIECK, in his individual and official capacities, TASHA EWERT, in her individual and official capacities, JEREMY JENKINS, in his individual and official capacities, PAUL JEROTHE, in his individual and official capacities, JON MAREK, in his individual and official capacities, JEREMIAH MILES, in his individual and official capacities, LARRY BLACK, in his individual and official capacities, DAVID GROSS, in his individual and official capacities, and TONI TRUJILLO, in her individual and official capacities,, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING STAY OF DISCOVERY
Michael E. Hegarty, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court are the Denver Defendants' Motion to Stay
Discovery [filed May 15, 2019; ECF No. 31], the
Plaintiffs' response, and Defendants' reply. For the
reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion for a
temporary stay of discovery as to the Denver Defendants: City
and County of Denver, Glenn Mahr, Larry Black, David Gross,
and Toni Trujillo.
brings this action pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed.
Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and the 14th
Amendment to the United States Constitution. (Docket #1 at
1.) All defendants responded to Plaintiff's Complaint
with motions to dismiss. (Dockets ##15, 17.) Defendant Rouco
claims absolute immunity (docket #17 at 6-7); Defendants
Olmos and Charobee assert an entitlement to qualified
immunity (docket #15 at 9). In the motions at hand,
defendants request that discovery be stayed pending
resolution of the immunity defenses and jurisdictional
challenges stated in their motions to dismiss.
Supreme Court has ruled that evaluating the defense of
qualified immunity is a threshold issue, and “[u]ntil
this threshold immunity question is resolved, discovery
should not be allowed.” Siegert v. Gilley, 500
U.S. 226, 233 (1991) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)); Workman v. Jordan, 958
F.2d 332, 336 (10th Cir. 1992) (same). However, the defense
of qualified immunity is not necessarily “a bar to all
discovery.” Rome v. Romero, 225 F.R.D. 640,
643 (D. Colo. 2004). There are certain circumstances when
discovery may be permissible despite an assertion of
qualified immunity, including cases alleging
official-capacity claims and requests for injunctive (as
opposed to monetary) relief. See Id. Additionally,
permitting discovery up until the point that qualified
immunity is raised may be appropriate, particularly when the
defense is not advanced until the filing of a motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 643-44.
however, the individual Denver Defendants raised the defense
of qualified immunity in response to the Complaint at an
early stage of the litigation. In addition, the City of
Denver argues the Plaintiffs fail to allege plausible claims
under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S.
658 (1978). Discovery has not begun and Defendants'
pending motion to dismiss, if granted, could fully dispose of
Plaintiffs' claims before the parties engage in the
discovery process. See Namoko v. Milgard Mfg., Inc.,
No. 06-cv-02031-WDM-MEH, 2007 WL 1063564, at *1 (D. Colo.
Apr. 6, 2007) (“good cause may exist to stay discovery
if a dispositive motion has been filed that could resolve the
case and a stay does not unduly prejudice the opposing
Court has broad discretion to stay proceedings as incidental
to its power to control its own docket. See Clinton v.
Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706-07 (1997) (citing Landis v.
North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)).
Legal questions regarding the court's subject matter
jurisdiction should be resolved as early as possible in the
litigation, before incurring the burdens of discovery.
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);
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 omitted)). Typically, in
evaluating a request for a stay of discovery, the following
five factors guide the Court's determination:
(1) 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
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).
balance of these factors favors a temporary stay in this
case. First, while the Plaintiffs oppose Defendants'
request for a stay, Plaintiffs have not demonstrated any
obvious need for urgency and have, in fact, sought and agreed
to extensions of time since the case, including for filing a
response to the pending motion to dismiss. The Court finds no
actual prejudice to the Plaintiffs here, where the Court will
endeavor to resolve the dispositive motion as soon as
possible after it becomes ripe. Second, the Court finds that
discovery in this case could be substantial given the
complexity of the matters and the proficiency of counsel.
Furthermore, the Court agrees with Defendants that claims
against the individual Defendants are interrelated with those
against the entity Defendant and, thus, a stay of discovery
as to the individuals likewise should be imposed as to the
while the Court typically discourages stays of discovery, the
Court acknowledges the efficiency and fairness of delaying
the proceedings at this early stage of the litigation pending
resolution of a motion to dismiss that could resolve this
matter in its entirety, particularly given the Court's
expectation that the motion will be resolved shortly after it
becomes ripe. See Harris v. United States, No.
09-cv-02658-PAB-KLM, 2010 WL 1687915, at *1 (D. Colo. Apr.
27, 2010) (“[N]either [the Court's] nor the
parties' time is well-served by being involved in the
‘struggle over the substance of the suit' when, as
here, a dispositive motion is pending.”) (citations
omitted). The Court finds consideration of the remaining
factors weighs neutrally, in favor of neither side.
stay of discovery pending the determination of a dispositive
motion ‘is an eminently logical means to prevent
wasting the time and effort of all concerned, and to make the
most efficient use of judicial resources.'”
Chavous v. Dist. of Columbia Fin. Responsibility &
Mgmt. Assistance Auth., 201 F.R.D. 1, 2 (D.D.C. 2001)
(citation omitted). Here, the Court concludes that because
Rome is distinguishable on its facts and
circumstances, its evaluation is not applicable to the case
at hand. Moreover, consideration of the String
Cheese factors applied to this case demonstrates a
finding in favor of a temporary stay. Thus, in light of the
foregoing and the ...