United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR., UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery (R.
Doc. 159) filed on September 15, 2017. The Motion is opposed.
(R. Doc. 166). Also before the Court is Defendants'
Motion to Reset Discovery Deadlines (R. Doc. 160) filed on
September 15, 2017, to which no opposition has been filed.
October 14, 2015, Cornelius Lorenzo Wilson
(“Plaintiff”) initiated this instant litigation,
alleging violation of the Eighth Amendment by Defendants for
an alleged failure to provide proper medical care, and
seeking an injunction and monetary damages. (R. Doc. 1).
13, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to file his
Second Amended Complaint (R. Doc. 138), which brings claims
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the First, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendment rights of the U.S. Constitution.
no answers or affirmative defenses have been filed to the
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, Defendants Dennis
Grimes and Sid J. Gautreaux, III filed a Motion to Dismiss
Second Amended Complaint (R. Doc. 146) on August 14, 2017,
Defendants Linda Otteson and the City of Baton Rouge/Parish
of East Baton Rouge o/b/o Prison Medical Services filed a
Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 148) on August 21, 2017, and
Defendants Secretary James LeBlanc, Warden Robert Tanner,
Warden Timothy Hooper, Dr. Raman Singh, and Tamyra Young
filed a Motion to Dismiss (R. Doc. 151) on September 6, 2017.
All three of these motions to dismiss assert, at least in
part, the defense of qualified immunity.
Law and Analysis
support of the Motion to Stay Discovery filed by Secretary
James LeBlanc, Warden Darrell Vannoy, Warden Robert Tanner,
Warden Timothy Hooper, Raman Singh M.D., and Tamyra Young on
September 15, 2017, Defendants suggest that all discovery
should be stayed until all immunity issues are
“resolved adversely and with finality.” (R. Doc.
159 at 1). Defendants further suggest that they should not be
subject to the cost and expense of discovery because their
claim of qualified immunity is well-founded. (R. Doc. 159-1
at 2). In Opposition, Plaintiff argues first that the
Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery should be ignored
because Defendants' Motions to Dismiss were untimely. (R.
Doc. 166 at 2). Second, Plaintiff suggests that Defendants
are only shielded from discovery that is “avoidable or
overly broad, ” and that he should be permitted to
conduced limited discovery related to the Defendants'
qualified immunity defense. (R. Doc. 166 at 2-3).
26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the
Court to issue a protective order after a showing of good
cause “to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Rule 26(c)'s “good
cause” requirement indicates that the party seeking a
protective order has the burden “to show the necessity
of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific
demonstration of fact as distinguished from stereotyped and
conclusory statements.” In re Terra Int'l,
Inc., 134 F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting
United States v. Garrett, 571 F.2d 1323, 1326 n.3
(5th Cir. 1978)).
courts possess broad discretion to supervise
discovery.” Landry v. Air Line Pilots Ass'n
Int'l AFL-CIO, 901 F.2d 404, 436 n.114 (5th Cir.
1990) (citation omitted). “A trial court has broad
discretion and inherent power to stay discovery until
preliminary questions that may dispose of the case are
determined.” Petrus v. Bowen, 833 F.2d 581,
583 (5th Cir. 1987). “The qualified immunity defense
affords government officials not just immunity from
liability, but immunity from suit.” Vander Zee v.
Reno, 73 F.3d 1365, 1368 (5th Cir. 1996) (citing
Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 525-26 (1985)).
Qualified immunity shields government officials from
individual liability for performing discretionary functions,
unless their conduct violates clearly established statutory
or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would
have known. Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818
Fifth Circuit has long held that an assertion of qualified
immunity shields a government official from discovery that is
“avoidable or overly broad.” Lion Boulos v.
Wilson, 834 F.2d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 1987). As
clarification, the Court explained that it is only when the
district court “is unable to rule on the immunity
defense without further clarification of the facts” and
when the discovery order is “narrowly tailored to
uncover only those facts needed to rule on the immunity
claim, ” that an order allowing limited discovery is
neither avoidable nor overly broad. Lion Boulos, 834
F.2d at 507-08. However, discovery on the issue of qualified
immunity “must not proceed until the district court
first finds that the plaintiff's pleadings
assert facts which, if true, would overcome the defense of
qualified immunity.” Wicks v. Miss. State Emp't
Servs., 41 F.3d 991, 994 (5th Cir. 1995); Brown v.
Texas A & M Univ., 804 F.2d 327, 333 (5th Cir. 1986)
(“[T]he issue of qualified immunity is a threshold
question, and until this threshold immunity question is
resolved, discovery should not be allowed.”).
timeliness of Defendants' Motions to Dismiss is not
properly before the Court on a motion requesting a stay of
discovery, but rather in opposition to the motions to dismiss
themselves. Furthermore, a review of the Oppositions (R.
Docs. 150, 153, and 167) to the Motions to Dismiss (R. Docs.
146, 148, and 151, respectively) do not appear to raise a
timeliness issue at all. The question before the Court is not
whether Defendants' Motions to Dismiss have been timely
filed, but rather, whether the assertion of a qualified
immunity defense entitles Defendants to a stay in discovery.
Thus, Plaintiff's argument as to timeliness is without