United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
TAYLOR CARLISLE, ET AL.
NEWELL NORMAND, ET AL.
TRICHE MILAZZO JUDGE.
ORDER AND REASONS
VAN MEERVELD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court are the Motions to Stay Discovery filed by Patricia
Klees and Sheriff Joseph Lopinto, in his official capacity as
Sheriff for the Parish of Jefferson (the
“Sheriff”). (Rec. Docs. 316, 322). For the
followings reasons, the Motions are GRANTED. Discovery is
hereby stayed pending resolution of the Motions to Dismiss
(Rec. Docs. 307, 308, 309).
Taylor Carlisle and Emile Heron were convicted of the
possession of various controlled substances and, as a part of
their sentences, enrolled in the Drug Court Program of the
24th Judicial District Court (“Drug Court
Program”). The remaining claims in this lawsuit include
Plaintiffs' putative class action claims against the
Sheriff and Klees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
challenging the imposition of jail time for alleged probation
violations while participating in the Drug Court Program.
Plaintiffs' proposed class includes those probationers
participating in the Drug Court Program who were sentenced to
“flat time, ” or who were sentenced to jail time
without a hearing or opportunity to defend, or without a
record from which to appeal. Additionally, Plaintiffs have a
state law claim for legal malpractice pending against Joseph
Merino, and plaintiff Carlisle has a negligence claim against
Joe McNair and McNair & McNair, LLC, arising out
counseling services provided through the Drug Court Program.
January 19, 2017, the District Judge granted Plaintiffs 60
days following the Court's rulings on the Motions to
Dismiss to seek discovery relevant to their class action
claim. (Rec. Doc. 108). Those rulings were issued on December
19, 2017. (Rec. Doc. 231). On February 19, 2018, Plaintiffs
sought an extension of the deadline in light of issues that
had arisen in obtaining discovery. The District Judge
referred the issue of setting a new deadline for class
certification discovery to the undersigned. The parties have
participated in seven telephone status conferences and one
oral argument with the undersigned on discovery related
25, 2018, Officer Klees and the Sheriff filed motions to
dismiss. Klees argues she is immune from suit under
principals of sovereign immunity, absolute immunity, and
qualified immunity. She also alleges that Plaintiffs'
class claims against her must be dismissed because Plaintiffs
have not shown common issues of law and fact among the class.
In a separate motion to dismiss, she argues that
Plaintiffs' claims are prescribed because Klees was not
added to the suit until June 13, 2017, more than one year
after the conduct Plaintiffs challenge. The Sheriff argues
that Plaintiffs' claims are barred by Heck v.
Humphrey because they are challenging their
incarceration, but their convictions have not been
invalidated. The Sheriff also argues that Plaintiffs have
failed to state a claim because the Sheriff has no authority
to alter or amend a sentence imposed by a Judge. Plaintiffs
requested and obtained a continuance of the submission date
on the Motions to Dismiss, which are now set for submission
on July 25, 2018.
were proceeding with class certification discovery, but Klees
and the Sheriff refused to appear for deposition in light of
their motions to dismiss. On June 29, 2018, Klees filed a
Motion to Stay Discovery pending resolution of her Motions to
Dismiss. The Sheriff filed a Motion to Stay Discovery or,
Alternatively for a Protective Order, on July 5, 2018.
Delay of Discovery
26(c) provides that the Court “may, for good cause,
” protect a party from “undue burden or
expense” by issuing an order “forbidding the
disclosure or discovery” or “specifying terms,
including time . . . for the disclosure or discovery.”
Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 26(c)(1)(D). Thus, the “Court may
issue a protective order to stay discovery pending the
disposition of a motion to dismiss and or motion for summary
judgment when the party seeking such protection proves its
necessity.” Whitener v. PLIVA, Inc., No.
CIV.A. 10-1552, 2013 WL 6086005, at *3 (E.D. La. Nov. 19,
2013). “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).
Officer Klees' Motion to Stay
Klees insists that all pre-trial discovery regarding Klees
should be stayed pending the District Judge's ruling on
her motions to dismiss and a final determination of her
claims for absolute and/or qualified immunity. She points out
that qualified immunity is an immunity from suit, rather than
a mere defense to liability. See Crawford-El v.
Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 597-98 (1998). Indeed, where a
defendant pleads qualified immunity, “a district court
must first find that the plaintiff's pleadings assert
facts which, if true, would overcome the defense of qualified
immunity.” Backe v. LeBlanc, 691 F.3d 645, 648
(5th Cir. 2012) (quotation omitted). “After
the district court finds a plaintiff has so pled, if the
court remains unable to rule on the immunity defense without
further clarification of the facts, it may issue a discovery
order narrowly tailored to uncover only those facts needed to
rule on ...