United States District Court, D. Nevada
MAXWELL B. WILLIAMS, et al, Plaintiffs,
THE TRAVELERS HOME AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, et al, Defendants.
Hoffman, Jr. United States Magistrate Judge
before the Court is Defendants' motion to stay discovery
(ECF No. 17), filed on April 6, 2017. Plaintiffs filed a
response (ECF No. 19) on April 20, 2017, and Defendants filed
a reply (ECF No. 21) on April 24, 2017.
move for a stay of all discovery until the Court rules on the
pending motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 16). Plaintiffs
argue that limited discovery is necessary in order for the
Court to adjudicate the motion for summary judgment.
case is based on a dispute between the parties over
Defendants' obligations to pay for water damage to
Plaintiffs' property that occurred on June 18, 2010.
Defendants made some payments under Plaintiffs'
homeowner's insurance policy, but Plaintiffs claimed that
Defendants were not meeting their full obligations under the
policy. Defendants opened a file based on Plaintiffs'
complaints, but after what Defendants describe as a failure
to provide follow-up documentation, they closed the file, and
informed Plaintiff of this action via a letter (“The
Letter”), Dated: October 5, 2011. Plaintiffs later
brought suit in state court on June 17, 2016. (Complaint (ECF
No. 1-1).) The case was removed to federal court, where
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (ECF No. 5), which was
granted in part. (ECF No. 12) Only Plaintiffs' breach of
contract claim survived the motion to dismiss, and on March
31, 2017, Defendants moved for summary judgment (ECF No. 15)
on this final claim. Defendants now move for a stay of all
litigation pending the Court's decision on the motion for
summary judgment, arguing that the motion is potentially
dispositive of all claims, and that no further discovery is
necessary to render a decision. Mot. at 3 (ECF No. 17).
Plaintiffs argue that a decision will require discovery as to
the full meaning of The Letter. They concede that the motion
for summary judgment is potentially dispositive of all claims
(Resp. at p. 5 (ECF No. 19).), and they stipulate to a stay
of all other discovery until the motion is decided for all
topics other than The Letter. Id.
have broad discretionary power to control discovery,
including the decision to stay discovery. See e.g.,
Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th
Cir. 1988). When evaluating whether to stay discovery, courts
consider the goal of Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, which directs that the rule must be
“construed and administered to secure the just, speedy,
and inexpensive determination of every action.”
Tradebay, LLC v. eBay, Inc., 278 F.R.D. 597, 602 (D.
Nev. 2011) (citation omitted). But the Rules do not provide
for an automatic stay of discovery when a potentially
dispositive motion is pending. Id. at 600-01. Thus,
a pending dispositive motion “is not ordinarily a
situation that in and of itself would warrant a stay of
discovery.” Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. Tracinda
Corp., 175 F.R.D. 554, 556 (D. Nev. 1997) (quotation
omitted). Nor does the fact that “discovery may involve
some inconvenience and expense” automatically warrant a
stay of discovery. Id.
determine whether to stay discovery, courts consider whether
(1) the pending motion is potentially dispositive of the
entire case, or at least of the issue on which discovery is
sought; and (2) the potentially dispositive motion can be
decided without additional discovery. Ministerio Roca
Solida v. U.S. Dep't of Fish & Wildlife, 288
F.R.D. 500, 506 (D. Nev. 2013). This analysis requires the
court to take a “preliminary peek” at the
potentially dispositive motion. Tradebay, 278 F.R.D.
at 603. This assessment is meant not to prejudge a
motion's outcome but, rather, to accomplish the cost- and
time-saving objectives of Rule 1 by evaluating the justice of
either permitting or delaying discovery. Id. Turner,
175 F.R.D. at 555. Ultimately, the party seeking the stay
“carries the heavy burden of making a ‘strong
showing' why discovery should be denied.”
Id. at 556 (quotation omitted).
Court now takes a “preliminary peek” at the
merits of Defendants' motion for summary judgment. The
Court notes that both parties concede that the motion is
potentially dispositive of all remaining claims. Further, as
Plaintiffs concede that no discovery is necessary except on
the issue of The Letter, the need for discovery on The Letter
is the only issue the Court need consider.
argument for discovery on The Letter hinges upon its possible
ambiguity. Plaintiffs maintain that, although the letter
informed them that they had “failed to cooperate in the
investigation of this claim and to make the premises
available for inspection as required, ” that Defendants
“must presume that [Plaintiffs] are no longer pursuing
this claim, ” and that they were “closing this
file, ” this does not necessarily constitute
notification that no future claim benefits would be provided.
(Resp. at 7 (ECF No. 19).) However, this Court has already
found that, based on the statements in The Letter,
“there is no genuine dispute that at that moment,
[Defendants were] refusing to pay anything further.
[Plaintiffs] were thus aware as of that date that no
additional benefits would be forthcoming.” (Order at 5
(ECF No. 12).) The only significance Plaintiffs ascribe to
the Letter is whether or not it provided notice that
Defendants were refusing future benefits. As the Court has
already considered this matter, and made a clear finding on
it, there is no need at this time for further inquiry.
Court finds that no discovery on the issue of The Letter is
necessary. The motion for summary judgment may therefore be
considered without further discovery. In light of this
finding, and since both parties agree that the motion is
potentially dispositive of all remaining claims, Defendants