United States District Court, D. Kansas
DUSTIN D. COFFMAN, Plaintiff,
HUTCHINSON COMMUNITY COLLEGE, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. BIRZER United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Stay
Discovery (ECF No. 75). On February 9, 2018,
the Court conducted an in-person hearing to discuss the
pending motion. Plaintiff Dustin D. Coffman appeared in
person. All Defendants appeared jointly through counsel,
Allen G. Glendenning, Carole K. DeWald, and Adam Michael
Teel. After consideration of both the arguments of the
parties and counsel, and the parties' briefing, the Court
GRANTED Defendants' motion at hearing.
The previously-announced ruling of the Court is now
addition, the Court considers the following motions filed by
Plaintiff since the hearing: 1) Plaintiff's Motion for
Discovery (ECF No. 86); 2) Plaintiff's
Motion for Hearing (ECF No. 87); 3)
Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees (ECF No.
89); and 4) Plaintiff's Motion to “accept
ECF # 7 petition as FACTS and Findings of law, A.D.R. 16.3
alternative resolution” (ECF No. 90).
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motions are
in-depth discussion of the factual and procedural background
of this case was included in previous orders and will not be
repeated. Generally speaking, Plaintiff filed this case,
acting pro se, against Hutchinson Community College
(“HCC”), claiming the school and its named
instructors and administrators violated his constitutional
rights by dismissing him from HCC's nursing program.
filing his case on August 7, 2017, a plethora of motions have
been presented ad nauseum for the Court's consideration.
In the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and
Order of September 9, 2017, Plaintiff's request for
counsel and six other motions were denied (ECF No. 23). On
October 3, 2017, the undersigned considered three more of
Plaintiff's motions for various forms of relief, all of
which were denied (Order, ECF No. 34). In addition to the
motions decided by the Magistrate Judge, the District Judge
denied Plaintiff's early motion for summary judgment
(Order, ECF No. 19), and granted in part and denied in part
HCC's motion to dismiss (Order, ECF No. 28). The most
recent orders by the undersigned granted HCC's motion to
quash subpoenas improperly issued by Plaintiff (Order, ECF
No. 62), and denied Plaintiff's motion to compel
information from those subpoenas (ECF No. 67). In the
December 11, 2017 Order, this Court reminded Plaintiff that
his attempts to discover information are premature, and
instructed him to refrain from filing any additional
documents until the case is set for scheduling (ECF No. 67).
Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery (ECF No.
pending before the Court is a second motion to dismiss
Plaintiff's claims in their entirety (Motion, ECF No.
70). All defendants join in this motion, seeking dismissal on
a number of bases. They argue Plaintiff fails to state a
viable claim of First Amendment violations, due process
violations, Equal Protection violations, or breach of
contract. They also contend there exists no Kansas Civil
Rights Act or Kansas Victim Protection Act, on which he bases
two of his claims. Even if an individual instructor or
administrator at HCC committed a constitutional tort,
Defendants argue HCC would not be liable, because respondeat
superior does not apply to constitutional violations.
Defendants claim all individual defendants, if sued in their
individual capacities, are entitled to a qualified immunity
defense as state officials. Alternatively, Defendants argue
if Plaintiff sues individuals in their official capacities
only, his claims are duplicative of the official claim
now ask the Court to stay discovery until their motion to
dismiss has been decided. They contend that, if the case is
not dismissed in full, a decision on the motion is likely to
significantly narrow the causes of actions, some of the
defendants, and the scope of the case. This would also reduce
the amount of time and money spent on discovery.
asks the Court to move ahead with a scheduling conference and
discovery. He argues this case has already been delayed long
enough. The Court considers the arguments of the parties
against the legal backdrop of their arguments.
decision on whether to stay litigation is within the
Court's inherent power to control its docket and rests in
its sound discretion. The Court may exercise that power in the
interest of economy of time and effort for itself and for
counsel and parties appearing before it. When discharging
its discretion, the Court “must weigh competing
interests and maintain an even balance.” The Tenth Circuit
has cautioned, “[t]he right to proceed in court should
not be denied except under the most extreme
this overarching right to proceed, the general policy of the
District of Kansas is to continue with discovery during the
pendency of dispositive motions.However, there are recognized
exceptions to this rule. One such “well-established
exception” applies where a defendant seeks dismissal
based on absolute or qualified immunity.
a defendant is entitled to have questions of immunity
resolved before being required to engage in discovery and
other pretrial proceedings.” “One of the purposes
of immunity . . . is to spare a defendant not only
unwarranted liability, but unwarranted demands customarily
imposed upon those defending a long drawn out
lawsuit.” “The Supreme Court has made it clear
that until the threshold question of immunity is resolved,
discovery should not be allowed.”
when immunity is not at issue, the court considers whether
any of the following three exceptions apply to make a stay of
1) where the case is likely to be finally concluded by the
ruling on the pending dispositive motion;
2) where the facts sought through uncompleted discovery would
not affect the ...