United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
E. FALLON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the Court is a motion to stay this litigation pending the
resolution of a related criminal matter filed by Defendant
Roger Thorpe. R. Doc. 10. Plaintiff Christopher Hansen
opposes the motion. R. Doc. 11. Thorpe has filed a reply. R.
Doc. 14. Having considered the record, the parties'
arguments, and the applicable law, the Court rules as
23, 2017, Plaintiff Christopher Hansen alleges he was
traveling eastbound on Interstate-10 when he was verbally
accosted by Defendant Roger Thorpe. R. Doc. 1 at ¶ 5.
According to Plaintiff, after he “maneuvered his
vehicle around Defendant's vehicle in slow moving
traffic, ” Defendant “rolled down his
window” and began yelling at Plaintiff. Id. at
¶ 5. Plaintiff continued driving with his window up when
Defendant “suddenly pulled out a firearm and fired at
least two (2) rounds into Plaintiffs vehicle, ” which
“shattered the right rear passenger side window of
Plaintiff's vehicle, striking the front passenger seat
head rest.” Id. at ¶ 6.
attempt to read Defendant's license plate number,
Plaintiff followed Defendant for a brief period until
Defendant eventually pulled over, and Plaintiff parked his
car behind Defendant's. Id. at ¶ 6.
Plaintiff alleges that, once he parked his car,
“Defendant exited his vehicle with his firearm drawn,
approached Plaintiff, . . . threatened to kill Plaintiff[, ]
and demanded that Plaintiff give up his cellular
phone.” Id. at 8. “Fear[ing] for his
life, ” Plaintiff dropped his phone on the ground,
id. at ¶ 9, whereupon “Defendant picked
[it] up . . . and walked back to his vehicle, ”
“verbally threaten[ing] to kill Plaintiff if Plaintiff
continued to follow [him], ” id. at
¶¶ 10, 11. Plaintiff alleges he suffered
“severe emotional distress that includes, inpatient
psychiatric treatment for suicidal ideations, divorce and
continuing post[-]traumatic stress disorder” as a
result of Defendant's actions. Id. at ¶ 26.
the incident, Police officers arrested Defendant for: (1)
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, (2) Use of a Firearm in
Robbery, and (3) Illegal Use of Weapons: Relative to Illegal
Discharge of a Firearm. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff
alleges the New Orleans District Attorney ultimately charged
Defendant with: (1) Discharging a Firearm During the
Commission of a Violent Crime, in violation of Louisiana
Revised Statutes 14:94(F); and (2) Armed Robbery with a
Firearm, in violation of Louisiana Revised Statutes 14:64.3.
Id. at ¶ 15. According to the Complaint,
“Defendant's [criminal] case is active and is
styled as State v. Roger Thorpe, ” No. 538428,
Section “I.” Id.
on these allegations, Plaintiff brought this action against
Defendant on June 22, 2018. Id. He brings claims for
assault with a deadly weapon and/or aggravated assault,
id. at ¶ 4, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress, id. at 5-6. He seeks judgment
against defendant “in an amount that will compensate
him for . . . violation[s] of his rights under the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 and the laws of the State of Louisiana,
including but not limited to”: (1) “LSA-C.C. Art.
2315 [for] damages sustained by him as a direct victim of the
Aggravated Assault, ” (2) “LSA-C.C. Art. 2315
[for] damages sustained by him as a direct victim of the
Armed Robbery, ” (3) compensatory damages, (4) punitive
damages, (5) costs, and (6) pre-judgment and post-judgment
interest. Id. at 6-7.
November 1, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to stay the
instant proceedings while his related criminal case is
pending. He submits that “[i]f the civil litigation is
allowed to proceed simultaneously with the criminal
proceeding, [he] will be forced to choose between exercising
his rights under the Fifth Amendment and exposing himself to
. . . [Plaintiff's] contention that [Defendant's]
failure to testify warrants an adverse inference.” R.
Doc. 10-1 at 1.
opposition, Plaintiff admits “The instant civil action
. . . overlap[s] with the criminal case, ” but
nevertheless contends the Court “can move this case
forward using the admissions that Defendant made in his 911
Emergency call that is referenced on page 4 of the NOPD
Arrest report.” R. Doc. 11 at 3. He also points to the
criminal court's denial of Defendant's motions to
suppress his statement to police and the gun discovered in
his home, arguing “the evidence that is now in the
public record in Defendant's criminal case is substantial
enough to prove Plaintiff's case under the preponderance
of the evidence civil court standard without having to take
Defendant's deposition or serve Defendant with
Admissions, Interrogatories or Requests for
Production.” According to Plaintiff, because this
evidence and Defendant's prior statements are publicly
available, “Defendant will not be prejudiced at all;
nor will Defendant's constitutional rights be put in any
jeopardy.” Id. at 5. Finally, Plaintiff
contends he “will be highly prejudiced if this case is
stayed indefinitely and he is not first able to identify the
assets Defendant currently holds, ” as “the
indefinite delay could completely frustrate Plaintiff's
ability to recover damages once the Criminal Prosecution is
concluded.” Id. at 5.
LAW & ANALYSIS
may be warranted only where “special
circumstances” exist to prevent a party from suffering
substantial and irreparable prejudice. S.E.C. v. First
Fin. Grp., 659 F.2d 660 (5th Cir. 1981). To determine