United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
JUNE MEDICAL SERVICES, LLC, ET Al.
REBEKAH GEE, ET AL.
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery (R.
Doc. 40) filed on October 20, 2017. The motion is opposed.
(R. Doc. 45).
27, 2017, June Medical Services, LLC, on behalf of its
patients, physicians, and staff, as well as certain
physicians proceeding as “John Doe” plaintiffs
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) commenced this
action against Rebekah Gee, in her official capacity as
Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health
(“LDH”), and James R. Stewart, Sr., in his
official capacity as District Attorney for Caddo Parish
(collectively, “Defendants”). (R. Doc. 1,
“Compl.”). Plaintiffs challenge the
constitutionality of Louisiana's Outpatient Abortion
Facility Licensing Law (“OAFLL”), La. R.S.
40:2175.1-2175.6, including the term “outpatient
abortion facility” in La. R.S. 40:2199(A)(1), and
various health regulations described by Plaintiffs as
“Sham Health Statutes” located in Title 14 and
Title 40 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. (Compl. ¶
4). Plaintiffs allege that “LDH requires licensed
abortion facilities to meet over a thousand
requirements.” (Compl. ¶ 23). Plaintiffs allege
that as applied and enforced by LDH through its implementing
regulations and enforcement practices, the OAFLL and the
“Sham Health Statutes” violate the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. (Compl.
¶¶ 9, 220-228).
August 29, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss seeking
dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), or in the alternative,
Rule 12(b)(1). (R. Doc. 22). Defendants argue that
Plaintiffs' substantive due process claim under the
Fourteenth Amendment must be dismissed because it challenges
various statutes collectively and appears to challenge
various unidentified implementing regulations. (R. Doc. 22-1
at 9-19). Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' procedural
due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment must be
dismissed because it is unripe and waived in light of a
settlement agreement between the parties. (R. Doc. 22-1 at
19-22). Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs'
unreasonable search claim under the Fourth Amendment must be
dismissed because Plaintiffs fail to plead a justiciable
challenge regarding a particular inspection, and because
abortion clinics are closely regulated entities with lesser
Fourth Amendment protections. (R. Doc. 22-1 at 22-26).
Plaintiffs filed an Opposition. (R. Doc. 32).
October 3, 2017, Plaintiffs served their First Request for
Production of Documents on Rebekah Gee. (R. Doc. 40-2).
October 5, 2017, the Court held a telephone scheduling
conference with the parties. (R. Doc. 34). Given
Defendants' position that discovery should be stayed
pending resolution of their motion to dismiss, the Court
stayed formal discovery pending further order by the Court
and required Defendants to file a motion to stay on or before
October 20, 2017.
October 20, 2017, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Stay
Discovery (R. Doc. 40). Defendants argue that given the
breadth of the allegations in the Complaint, which touch upon
the entire regulatory structure governing abortions in
Louisiana, the Court should first rule on the pending Motion
to Dismiss prior to the commencement of discovery given the
possibility that Plaintiffs' claims will be dismissed or
narrowed as a matter of law. Defendants further argue that
the overbreadth of the Requests for Production underscores
the need for a stay of discovery in this action.
opposition, Plaintiffs argue that the possibility that an
action may be resolved on the pleadings does not, without
more, justify a stay, and Defendants have not otherwise met
their burden of demonstrating justification for a stay of
discovery. (R. Doc. 45).
argument on the pending Motion to Dismiss has been scheduled
before the district judge on January 30, 2018. (R. Doc. 53).
Law and Analysis
26(c) 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)). “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); see also Landry v. Air Line Pilots
Ass'n Int'l AFL-CIO, 901 F.2d 404, 436 n.114
(5th Cir. 1990) (“Trial courts possess broad discretion
to supervise discovery.”) (citation omitted).
considered the record as a whole, the Court finds good cause
for staying discovery until the district judge issues a
ruling on the pending Motion to Dismiss. Given the
wide-ranging legal challenges to LDH's implementing
regulations and enforcement practices regarding OAFLL and the
“Sham Health Statutes, ” a stay of discovery in
this action pending resolution of the Motion to Dismiss will
prevent any undue burden and expense on Defendants should the
allegations in the Complaint be dismissed or narrowed.
reaching the decision, the Court notes that this decision is
consistent with the Court's handling of a related matter
brought in this district. See June Medical Services, LLC
v. Rebekah Gee, Civ. Act. No. 16-444-BAJ-RLB, ECF No.
18, at 3 (M.D. La.). In that action, the district judge has
ruled on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, and the Court is
in the ...