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Sullivan v. Adventist Health Systems

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 31, 2019



          Teresa J. James U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery (ECF No. 25). In their motion, Defendants Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Inc. (also d/b/a Shawnee Mission Primary Care), Adventist Health Systems, New Haven Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and General Conference Corporation of Seventh-Day Adventist (“Defendants”) ask the undersigned Magistrate Judge to enter a stay of discovery pending the presiding District Judge's ruling on their Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 15). Plaintiff opposes the requested stay. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the motion.

         Plaintiff's claims arise out of his November 8, 2016 examination at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, where he went for treatment of Tarlov Cyst Disease. Plaintiff, who is pro se, has filed an amended complaint asserting a total of fifteen counts against these Defendants and eleven others, including claims alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, obstruction of justice, racketeering, Kansas Consumer Protection Act, breach of contract, and tortious interference with contract.[1] Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (6), asserting lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[2]

         Defendants alerted Plaintiff of their intention to file the instant motion and their understanding that filing the motion acts as a stay of discovery (including Rule 26 initial disclosures) while the motion is pending. Plaintiff disagreed that Defendants were relieved of the obligation to exchange initial disclosures, and in a good faith effort to cooperate, Defendants served their initial disclosures on Plaintiff.[3]

         I. Legal Standard for Motion to Stay Discovery

         The decision to stay discovery and other pretrial proceedings is firmly vested in the sound discretion of the trial court.[4] The Tenth Circuit, however, has held that “the right to proceed in court should not be denied except under the most extreme circumstances.”[5] Therefore, as a general rule, the District of Kansas does not favor staying discovery pending a ruling on a dispositive motion.[6] A stay is not favored because it can delay a timely resolution of the matter.[7]

Although, upon a showing of good cause, the court may . . . stay or limit the scope of discovery to protect a party from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression or undue burden or expense, bare assertions that discovery will be unduly burdensome or that it should be stayed because pending dispositive motions will probably be sustained, are insufficient to justify the entry of an order staying discovery generally.[8]

         However, a stay pending a ruling on a dispositive motion is appropriate where the case is likely to be finally concluded as a result of the ruling, where the facts sought through the remaining discovery would not affect the ruling on the pending motion, or where discovery on all issues in the case would be wasteful and burdensome.[9]

         A party seeking a stay of discovery has the burden to clearly show a compelling reason for the court to issue a stay.[10]

         II. The Parties' Arguments

         Defendants argue all discovery should be stayed pending rulings on their motion to dismiss because the motion is very likely to be completely dispositive, the facts sought through discovery would not affect the ruling on the motion, and discovery on all issues and claims would be wasteful and burdensome to Defendants. Even if the amended complaint is not dismissed in its entirety, Defendants argue that staying discovery until the motion is ruled will allow the parties to focus on the issues as narrowed.

         Plaintiff objects to the stay of discovery with a lengthy response that focuses on his medical issues. While he asks the Court to deny the requested stay, he does not address the legal standard or respond to Defendants' arguments. Instead, Plaintiff asserts Defendants are (1) attempting to deprive him of the service addresses of the defendants Plaintiff has not yet served, and (2) seeking to prevent development of the factual record by moving to stay discovery and refusing to comply with the initial disclosures.

         III. Application of the Standard to This Case

         Based on the wide-ranging amended complaint, discovery in this case may prove burdensome to all parties. The Court rejects Plaintiffs arguments, which do not address the relevant legal standards. Defendants are not obligated to provide Plaintiff with service addresses for other named parties, and the Court finds no evidence to support Plaintiffs assertion that the motion is motivated by a desire to deprive him of that information. Moreover, contrary to Plaintiffs assertion, Defendants made their initial disclosures, which would have provided such information if any of the individuals are likely to have discoverable information.[11] On balance, ...

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