United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
CARY G. MOSELEY, JR., Plaintiff,
JEFF SESSIONS, in his Official Capacity as Attorney General of the United States, Defendant.
STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Stay
Discovery, (doc. 21), and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel,
(doc. 29). The Court previously granted the Motion to Stay on
April 21, 2017, before Plaintiff filed a Response. (Doc. 27.)
Plaintiff has since filed a Response, (doc. 28), and
accordingly, the Court VACATES its April 21, 2017, Order
granting the Motion to Stay and will consider Plaintiff's
Response. Additionally, the Court DISMISSES AS MOOT
Plaintiff's Objection, (doc. 29), to the April 21, 2017
after careful consideration of the entire record including
Plaintiff's Response, and for the reasons set forth
below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Stay, (doc.
21), and DISMISSES Plaintiff's Motion to Compel, (doc.
filed this lawsuit on November 16, 2016, and filed his
Amended Complaint on January 5, 2017. (Docs. 1, 8.) Defendant
was served with the Complaint on February 8, 2017. (Doc. 13.)
On April 10, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss
requesting that the Court dismiss all of Plaintiff's
claims. (Doc. 20.) Shortly thereafter, Defendant moved to
stay discovery in this case until this Motion is resolved.
(Doc. 21.) Plaintiff responded in opposition to the Motion to
Stay on April 24, 2017. (Doc. 29, p. 3.) Additionally, on
April 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel. (Doc.
24.) In that Motion, Plaintiff sought to have the Court
compel Ms. Tracey Jermon, who is not a party to this action,
to provide Plaintiff with unspecified
Motion to Stay
regard to the timing of discovery, the Court of Appeals for
the Eleventh Circuit has recognized that:
[i]f the district court dismisses a nonmeritorious claim
before discovery has begun, unnecessary costs to the
litigants and to the court system can be avoided. Conversely,
delaying ruling on a motion to dismiss such a claim until
after the parties complete discovery encourages abusive
discovery and, if the court ultimately dismisses the claim,
imposes unnecessary costs. For these reasons, any legally
unsupported claim that would unduly enlarge the scope of
discovery should be eliminated before the discovery stage, if
Chudasama v. Mazda Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1368
(11th Cir. 1997) (footnotes omitted). For these reasons, this
Court, and other courts within the Eleventh Circuit,
routinely find good cause to stay the discovery period where
there is a pending motion to dismiss. See, e.g.,
Habib v. Bank of Am. Corp., No.
1:10-cv-04079-SCJ-RGV, 2011 WL 2580971, at *6 n.4 (N.D.Ga.
Mar. 15, 2011) (citing Chudasama, 123 F.3d at 1368)
(“[T]here is good cause to stay discovery obligations
until the District Judge rules on [the defendant's]
motion to dismiss to avoid undue expense to both
parties.”); Berry v. Canady, No.
2:09-cv-765-FtM-29SPC, 2011 WL 806230, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Mar.
2, 2011) (quoting Moore v. Potter, 141 F. App'x
803, 807 (11th Cir. 2005)) (“[N]either the parties nor
the court have any need for discovery before the court rules
on the motion [to dismiss].”).
Court recognizes that Chudasama and its progeny do
not create a per se rule that discovery is stayed every time
a motion to dismiss is filed. See S. Motors Chevrolet,
Inc., No. CV414-152, 2014 WL 5644089, at *1.
Nonetheless, the principle espoused in Chudasama,
that the Court should prevent the needless expenditure of
resources on discovery, is instructive to the Court's
inquiry at hand. Further, “[i]n deciding whether to
stay discovery pending resolution of a pending motion, the
Court inevitably must balance the harm produced by a delay in
discovery against the possibility that the motion will be
granted and entirely eliminate the need for such discovery.
This involves weighing the likely costs and burdens of
proceeding with discovery.” Feldman v. Flood,
176 F.R.D. 651, 652 (M.D. Fla. 1997) (quoting, Simpson v.
Specialty Retail Concepts, Inc., 121 F.R.D. 261, 263
(M.D. N.C. 1988)).
preliminary review of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
reveals that he has raised meritorious challenges to the
legal sufficiency of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. If
the Court were to grant Defendant's Motion to Dismiss,
this lawsuit would be dismissed in its entirety. Whether the
Amended Complaint can withstand Defendant's challenges is
a decision left to the District Judge. However, at this
stage, the Court does not find Defendant's arguments for
dismissal so frivolous or non-meritorious to conclude that
they have been interposed for the purpose of delay.
Plaintiff has filed numerous claims. Even a partial grant of
the Motion to Dismiss could narrow the issues which the
parties must address in discovery and perhaps reduce the
scope of discovery. On this point, Plaintiff has not
requested that discovery remain open on a limited set of
issues. Thus, denial of the Motion to Stay would require the
parties to commence discovery on all of the issues raised by
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint despite the pending Motion
to Dismiss. Plaintiff has also not plausibly argued that
discovery is needed for him to respond to the Motion to
Dismiss. Indeed, in the Motion to Dismiss, Defendant accepts,
as he must, the factual allegations of the Amended Complaint
as true, for the purposes of the Motion to Dismiss. (Doc.
20-1, p. 1.) Thus, Plaintiff does not need discovery to prove
his allegations, because Defendant has conceded those
allegations for the purposes of the Motion to Dismiss.
Response, Plaintiff acknowledges that “[d]iscovery
shall be stayed unless the Court finds upon the motion of any
particularized discovery [sic] is necessary to preserve
evidence or to prevent undue prejudice to [the] opposing
party.” (Doc. 28, p. 1.) Plaintiff then refers to his
Motion to Compel and contends that discovery is necessary to
“preserve the evidence in question.”
(Id. at p. 2.) However, parties and their counsel
are well aware of their duty to preserve evidence during the
stay of discovery. Should they fail to live up to that duty,
this Court has broad discretion to impose sanctions for
spoliation in order “to prevent unfair prejudice to
litigants and to insure the integrity of the discovery
process.” Flury v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., 427
F.3d 939, 944 (11th Cir. 2005). Moreover, Plaintiff has not
pointed to any specific evidence which could be lost or any
other potential development ...