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Rosenstein v. Clark County School District

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 23, 2014

AUDREY ROSENSTEIN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

CAM FERENBACH, Magistrate Judge.

This matter involves Audrey and Craig Rosenstein's section 1983 and tort claims against Clark County School District, its administrators, and various teachers and aids. Before the court is Defendants' motion to stay discovery (#54[1]). The Rosenstein's opposed (#57); and Defendants replied (#58). For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Audrey and Craig Rosenstein are the parents of N.R. In May 2012, N.R. was six-years old and a first grader at Defendant Clark County School District's facility, Cozine Elementary School. (Amend. Compl. (#41) at ¶¶ 17-19). N.R. is a special needs student. ( Id. at ¶ 17). N.R.'s teachers and/or teacher's aides at Cozine were Brittany Maxwell and Ashley Hoye. ( Id. at ¶¶ 10-11). On May 24, 2012, while N.R. was attending school at Cozine, something went wrong. "[P]hysical marks and bruises" appeared on N.R.'s "person." ( Id. at ¶ 19).

On June 21, 2013, N.R.'s parents filed suit against Maxwell, Hoye, and a variety of school officials and administrators, including James Guthrie, Rorie Fitzpatrick, Dwight Jones, Pedro Martinez, Samuel Rado, and Leigh Moser. (Compl. (#1-1) at ¶¶ 6-11). The Rosensteins also sued Nevada, Nevada Department of Education, Clark County, and Clark County School District. ( Id. at ¶¶ 14-17). The only penitent factual allegations contained in the Rosensteins' initial complaint were that N.R. went to school on May 24, 2012, which resulted "in physical marks and bruises upon [N.R.'s] person." ( See id. at ¶¶ 20-23).

Defendants moved to dismiss Rosenstein's complaint on the grounds that it was factually deficient. ( See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (#3) at 14-20). In response, the Rosensteins proffered additional facts, not contained in the complaint. ( See Pl.'s Opp'n (#16) at 4). These included the facts that: (1) N.R.'s psychosocial-rehabilitation worker picked N.R. up from school; (2) the psychosocial-rehabilitation worker immediately noticed unexplained bruising on N.R.'s body; (3) the psychosocial-rehabilitation worker immediately noticed that N.R. was acting in an usual manner; (4) N.R.'s mother immediately called the school to investigate; (5) Cozine staff told conflicting stories about the cause of N.R.'s injuries; and (6) Cozine staff refused to give N.R.'s mother a copy of the incident report. ( Id. ) In light of the additional facts contained in the Rosensteins' opposition, the parties stipulated to withdrawing the motion to dismiss and permitting the Rosensteins' to file an amended complaint.

The amended complaint was filed on January 3, 2014. The amended complaint's salient factual allegations state: (1) "[o]n May 24, 2012, Maxwell and/or Hoye intentionally grabbed and/or pinned the special needs student, [N.R.], in an overly aggressive manner, resulting in physical marks and bruises upon his person and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotion distress;" (2) "[N.R.'s] parents learned of the incident from [N.R.'s] psychosocial rehabilitation worker, who noticed that [N.R.] was behaving strangely and that he had unexplained bruising on his body;" (3) "[w]hen Audrey Rosenstein called Cozine to find out what happened to her [child], Defendants' initial response was to blame [N.R.] for the injuries"; (4) "Defendants' daily process note' for May 24, 2012, does not mention any restraint by Maxwell or any other person, nor does it indicates that [N.R.] did anything to harm [N.R.'s self];" and (5) "[w]hen CCSD Police Detective Caldwell investigated the incident, Defendant Maxwell knowingly provided him false information and attempted to hinder, delay, and obstruct his investigation of the incident." ( See Amend. Compl. (#41) at ¶¶ 19, 23-25, 29).

On January 24, 2014, Defendants renewed their motion to dismiss, again on the grounds that the Rosensteins' complaint is factually deficient. ( See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (#49) at 3). Again, the Rosensteins' opposed and proffered additional facts, not contained in the amended complaint. For instance, in place of the conclusory allegation that "Maxwell knowingly provided [Detective Caldwell with] false information and attempted to hinder, delay, and obstruct his investigation of the incident, " the opposition states that Detective Caldwell sought a warrant for Maxwell's arrest as a result of Maxwell's obstruction of the investigation. ( See Pl.'s Opp'n (#50) at 5:18-19) (citing Amend. Compl. (#41) at ¶ 29). The opposition does not provide any evidentiary support for this additional factual allegation.

On May 2, 2014, Defendants filed the instant motion to stay discovery pending resolution of their motion to dismiss. Defendants argue, among other things, that the Rosensteins "failed to plead facts" in support of their complaint. (Pl.'s Opp'n (#54) at 11:18). Once again, the Rosensteins opposed and proffered additional facts, not contained in the amended complaint. For instance, in place of the conclusory allegation that Defendants caused "physical marks and busies upon [N.R.'s] person, " the Rosensteins state that N.R.'s mother examined him after school and saw "two even marks going down the length of his arms, as if someone had squeezed him really hard" and that N.R. told his mother that Maxwell "put her knee on his chest." (Pl.'s Opp'n (#57) 5-6). Additionally, in place of the unsupported assertion that Detective Caldwell sought a warrant for Maxwell's arrest, the Rosensteins submitted a copy of Caldwell's affidavit in support of the arrest warrant. ( See Caldwell Aff. (#57-5) at 1). Defendants replied, arguing, among other things, that the Rosensteins' complaint is still factually deficient. (Reply (#58) at 9). This order follows.

LEGAL STANDARD

When evaluating a motion to stay discovery while a dispositive motion is pending, the court initially considers the goal of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1. The guiding premise of the Rules is that the Rules "should be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action." FED. R. CIV. P. 1. Discovery is expensive. The Supreme Court has long mandated that trial courts should resolve civil matters fairly but without undue cost. Brown Shoe Co. v. United States, 370 U.S. 294, 306 (1962). This directive is echoed by Rule 26, which instructs the court to balance the expense of discovery against its likely benefit. See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(B)(2)(iii).

Consistent with the Supreme Court's mandate that trial courts should balance fairness and cost, the Rules do not provide for automatic or blanket stays of discovery when a potentially dispositive motion is pending. Skellerup Indus. Ltd. v. City of Los Angeles, 163 F.R.D. 598, 600-01 (C.D. Cal. 1995). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1) states, "[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense." This rules authorizes the court to stay discovery.

Whether to grant a stay is within the discretion of the court. Munoz-Santana v. U.S. I.N.S., 742 F.2d 561, 562 (9th Cir. 1984). The party seeking a stay, however, has the burden "to show good cause' by demonstrating harm or prejudice that will result from the discovery." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(c)(1). Satisfying the "good cause" obligation is a challenging task. A party seeking "a stay of discovery carries the heavy burden of making a strong showing' why discovery should be denied." Gray v. First Winthrop Corp., 133 F.R.D. 39, 40 (N.D. Cal. 1990) (citing Blankenship v. Hearst Corp. 519 F.2d 418, 429 (9th Cir. 1975)).

Generally, imposing a stay of discovery pending a motion to dismiss is permissible if there are no factual issues raised by the motion to dismiss, discovery is not required to address the issues raised by the motion to dismiss, and the court is "convinced" that the plaintiff is unable to state a claim for relief. Rae v. Union Bank, 725 F.2d 478, 481 (9th Cir. 1984); White v. Am. Tobacco Co., 125 F.R.D. 508 (D. Nev. 1989) (citing Wood v. McEwen, 644 F.2d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 1981) cert. denied, 455 U.S. 942 (1982). Typical situations in which staying discovery pending a ruling on a dispositive motion are ...


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