United States District Court, D. Kansas
SHEILA ALBERS, as Administrator of the Estate of J.A, Deceased, Plaintiff,
CLAYTON JENISON and THE CITY OF OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS, Defendants.
P. O'Hara U.S. Magistrate Judge
plaintiff, Sheila Albers, brings this Section 1983 action
against Clayton Jenison and the City of Overland Park,
Kansas, alleging constitutional violations arising out of the
shooting death of her son, J.A. Defendants have filed a
motion to stay discovery (ECF No. 11) pending a ruling on
their joint motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 9)
by the presiding U.S. District Judge, Daniel D. Crabtree.
Defendants' request for stay is premised on Mr.
Jenison's assertion of qualified immunity. Plaintiff
opposes defendants' motion to stay, arguing she's
entitled to limited discovery related to the qualified
immunity defense. Plaintiff further asserts there's no
basis to stay discovery related to her claims against the
City. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion
to stay is granted.
Supreme Court has emphasized the broad protection qualified
immunity affords, giving officials ‘a right, not merely
to avoid standing trial, but also to avoid the burdens of
such pretrial matters as discovery.'” “[B]ecause
qualified immunity protects against the burdens of discovery
as well as trial, a district court may stay discovery upon
the filing of a dispositive motion based on qualified
immunity.” To be sure, there are limited occasions in
which “narrowly tailored” discovery may be
permitted if necessary to enable a district court to decide a
qualified-immunity question raised by a motion,
this is not one of those occasions.
Mr. Jenison asserts his qualified-immunity defense in a
motion for judgment on the pleadings, not a motion for
summary judgment. Courts evaluate a Rule 12(c) motion for
judgment on the pleadings under the same standard as a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Generally, in deciding a motion
to dismiss, the “court should consider no evidence
beyond the pleadings.” In that regard, the
“limited discovery” plaintiff seeks (i.e., audio,
video, ballistics and forensic evidence of the incident,
depositions of all responding officers, as well as reports,
statements, and interviews) will not assist plaintiff in
addressing Mr. Jenison's qualified immunity defense, at
least not at this stage.Because evidence will not assist
plaintiff in the context of the pending motion for judgment
on the pleadings, staying discovery in light of the
qualified-immunity assertion is appropriate.
parties have attached exhibits to their briefing on
defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. The
undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge, James P. O'Hara,
certainly does not wish to interfere with Judge
Crabtree's handling of the motion. Should Judge Crabtree
decide to convert the motion for judgment on the pleadings to
one for summary judgment, the issue of limited discovery may
given the overlapping facts supporting plaintiff's claims
against each of the defendants in this case, the court
concludes the potential burden and prejudice resulting from
bifurcated discovery outweigh any potential benefit.
Accordingly, discovery shall be stayed as to both defendants.
consideration of the foregoing, and upon good cause shown, IT
IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Defendants' motion to stay discovery (ECF No. 11) is
pretrial proceedings in this case, including discovery and
initial disclosures, are stayed until further order of the
Should the case survive the pending motion for judgment on
the pleadings, counsel shall confer and submit a Rule 26(f)
planning meeting report to the undersigned's chambers
within 21 days of the ruling on the motion.
Medina v. Cram, 252 F.3d
1124, 1127 (10th Cir. 2001) (quoting Behrens v.
Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 308 (1996)); see also
Harlow v. Fitzgerald, ...