United States District Court, D. Kansas
MARK ARNOLD, as Special Administrator and Duly-Appointed Representative of the Estate of Ciara Howard and on Behalf of Ciara Howard, Deceased, and her Heirs, Plaintiff,
CITY OF OLATHE, KANSAS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MURGUIA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the court on several motions-all related to
whether plaintiff is entitled to discovery before responding
to defendants' pending dispositive motions. Magistrate
Judge O'Hara stayed discovery in this case, and plaintiff
asks this court to review and overturn that decision (Doc.
51). Plaintiff also filed motions for extension of time to
respond to defendants' dispositive motions (Docs. 42 and
53). For the following reasons, the court overrules the
objection to Judge O'Hara's order and denies both
motions for extension of time. Discovery remains stayed.
district court reviews a magistrate judge's order on
non-dispositive pretrial matters under a “clearly
erroneous or contrary to law” standard of review. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see also
First Union Mortg. Corp. v. Smith, 229 F.3d 992, 995
(10th Cir. 2000). Under this standard, the court will affirm
the magistrate judge's order unless the court “is
left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been committed.'” Ocelot Oil Corp. v. Sparrow
Indus., 847 F.2d 1458, 1464 (10th Cir. 1988) (quoting
United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395
(1948)); see McCormick v. City of Lawrence, Kan.,
218 F.R.D. 687, 692-93 (D. Kan. 2003).
court does not find that Judge O'Hara's order is
clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Judge O'Hara
correctly identified the standards for staying discovery.
(Doc. 50, at 4.) He acknowledged that the general policy in
the District of Kansas has been not to stay discovery merely
because a dispositive motion has been filed. (Id.
(citing Wolf v. United States, 157 F.R.D. 494, 495
(D. Kan. 1994)).) He also identified recognized exceptions to
this rule. (Id. (citing Siegert v. Gilley,
500 U.S. 226, 232-33 (1991); Wolf, 157 F.R.D. at
495).) Judge O'Hara correctly observed that various types
of immunity have been raised in defendants' motions, and
specifically stated that often discovery should be stayed
when qualified immunity is raised-as it has been here.
(Id.) Judge O'Hara reviewed the standards for a
12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings and a 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss, noting that neither of them ordinarily
contemplate the presentation of evidence. (Id. at
5-6.) He reasoned that plaintiff did not need discovery to
respond to the pending motions, as plaintiff could
“rest on facts as alleged in the pleadings.”
(Id. at 7 (quoting Bradley v. United
States, No. 16-1435-EFM-TJJ, 2017 WL 4310224, at *3 (D.
Kan. Sept. 28, 2017)).) Finally, Judge O'Hara limited the
stay on discovery only until after this court has had the
opportunity to rule on the dispositive motions.
has given the court no meritorious reason to find these
rulings clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Mere
disagreement with a decision is insufficient to justify Rule
72(a) relief. Claytor v. Computer Assocs. Int'l,
Inc., 211 F.R.D. 665, 667 (D. Kan. 2003). Plaintiff
acknowledges the applicable standard for review of a
magistrate judge's non-dispositive order, but his
arguments lean more toward asking this court to take a fresh,
de novo look at the issue-which is not what this court does
when reviewing a magistrate judge's non-dispositive
ruling. Plaintiff also emphasizes the prejudice he believes
he will suffer if not allowed discovery at this time. But
Judge O'Hara considered this potential prejudice and
determined that it did not justify allowing discovery now.
(Doc. 50, at 6- 7.) And plaintiff suggests that Judge
O'Hara may have interpreted Supreme Court precedent to
mean that the assertion of qualified immunity “entitled
a defendant to a stay of all discovery.” (Doc. 51, at
10.) Judge O'Hara did not. Instead, he acknowledged that
“the court may allow limited discovery ‘to allow
the plaintiff to uncover only the necessary facts to decide
the immunity claim, '” (doc. 50, at 6 (quoting
Saenz v. Lovington Mun. Sch. Dist., No. CIV 14-1005
JB/SMV, 2015 WL 1906140, at *10 (D.N.M. Apr. 6, 2015)), and
carefully reviewed the record to determine whether discovery
was necessary to determine the qualified immunity issue,
(id.). Judge O'Hara did not automatically accept
that, because qualified immunity was asserted, no discovery
must be permitted.
same reasons Judge O'Hara stayed discovery, the court
denies plaintiff's motions for extension of time. Upon an
initial review of the pending dispositive motions, it does
not appear that discovery (even limited discovery) is
necessary to adequately respond to defendants' motions.
Once the motions are fully briefed, if the court believes
that evidence is necessary to decide the motions, it can
either deny the motions outright, defer ruling to allow
limited discovery, or give the parties notice that it is
converting them to summary judgment motions and allow limited
discovery and the submission of evidence. At this time,
however, the court believes that briefing on the pending
dispositive motions should resume, and the court denies the
motions for extension of time.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion to
Review Magistrate Judge's Order (Doc. 51) is denied.
Plaintiff's objection to the order is overruled.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for
Extension of Time to Respond to Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss on Pleadings Doc. 37 (Doc. 42) is denied. Plaintiff
shall respond to Doc. 37 within ten days of the date of this
IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for
Extension of Time to Respond to the City of Olathe
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and/or Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings (Doc. 53) is denied. Plaintiff ...