United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER GRANTING STAY IN PART
N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge
Catherine Hern complains that her employer, Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., discriminated against her on the basis of her gender.
She seeks relief under theories of both disparate treatment
as well as disparate impact. In response, Walmart has filed a
motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 7.) Walmart argues, among other
things, that the Plaintiff fails to state a claim under
either theory. Walmart now asks the Court to stay discovery
until the Court rules on its motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 8.)
The Plaintiff objects to the stay, arguing that no discovery
has yet been requested and, in any event, Walmart's
motion to dismiss is not “clearly meritorious.”
(Pl.'s Resp., ECF No. 14.) Having considered the
parties' arguments and for the following reasons, the
Court is not persuaded that a limited stay in this case is
warranted and therefore denies in part and grants in
part Walmart's request for a stay of discovery.
(ECF No. 8.)
courts are given “broad discretion over the management
of pre-trial activities, including discovery and
scheduling.” Johnson v. Bd. of Regents of Univ. of
Ga., 263 F.3d 1234, 1269 (11th Cir. 2001). And district
courts have “broad authority to grant a stay.”
In re Application of Alves Braga, 789 F.Supp.2d
1294, 1307 (S.D. Fla. 2011) (Goodman, Mag. J.) As a general
rule, preliminary motions which may likely dispose of an
entire suit should be resolved as soon as practicable to
obviate avoidable discovery costs. See Chudasama v. Mazda
Motor Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1368 (11th Cir. 1997)
(“If the district court dismisses a nonmeritorious
claim before discovery has begun, unnecessary costs to the
litigants and to the court system can be avoided.”).
However, “[a] request to stay discovery pending a
resolution of a motion is rarely appropriate unless
resolution of the motion will dispose of the entire
case.” See McCabe v. Foley, 233 F.R.D.
683, 685 (M.D. Fla. 2006) (emphasis added).
evaluate whether there is a strong likelihood “the
motion will be granted and entirely eliminate the need for
such discovery, ” the district court must take a
“preliminary peek” at its merits. Feldman v.
Flood, 176 F.R.D. 651, 652-53 (M.D.Fla.1997) (citations
omitted). The court must also weigh “the harm produced
by a delay in discovery” against “the likely
costs and burdens of proceeding with discovery.”
See Id. at 652 (citations omitted). Both concerns
are important-while a defendant should not be forced to
expend substantial resources answering discovery when the
plaintiffs claims clearly lack merit, the delay and
protraction of discovery can also create case management and
scheduling problems and unfairly hold up the prosecution of
the case. See Chudasama, 123 F.3d at 1368-69;
Feldman, 176 F.R.D. at 652-53. Ultimately, the
proponent of the stay bears the burden of demonstrating its
necessity, appropriateness, and reasonableness.
McCabe, 233 F.R.D. at 685.
Court has taken a preliminary peek at the merits of
Walmart's motion. Although the Court does not find that
it appears to have a strong likelihood of disposing of the
entire case, it appears Walmart's motion with
respect to the Plaintiffs disparate impact claim is clearly
meritorious. And if the motion to dismiss is granted with
respect to this claim, which appears likely at this
preliminary stage, the need for discovery on that issue will
be obviated. With respect to the Plaintiffs disparate
treatment claim, however, there does not “appear to
be an immediate and clear possibility that [the motion] will
be granted.” Simpson v. Specialty Retail Concepts,
Inc., 121 F.R.D. 261, 263 (M.D. N.C. 1988). Indeed,
Walmart has filed a partial answer (ECF No. 10) with respect
to at least a portion of the Plaintiffs disparate treatment
claim. In light of this determination, and after weighing
“the harm produced by a delay in discovery”
against “the likely costs and burdens of proceeding
with discovery, ” Feldman, 176 F.R.D. at 652,
the Court stays discovery with respect to the
Plaintiffs disparate impact claim, but not with respect to
the Plaintiffs disparate treatment claim.
regarding the Plaintiffs disparate impact claim is therefore
stayed until this Court issues its order on
Walmart's motion to dismiss. If the motion is ultimately
denied as to the disparate impact claim, discovery on that
issue must immediately move forward.
the Court lifts the previously imposed suspension of briefing
of Walmart's motion to dismiss. The Plaintiff must
respond to Walmart's motion to dismiss on or before
November 4, 2019. Walmart must file its
reply, if any, within seven days of the Plaintiff's
filing of her response. The Court also orders the parties to
file, on or before October 25, 2019, an
amended joint discovery plan and conference report,
specifically as it relates to this case.
to the extent the Plaintiff has a good faith belief that the
discovery issues raised in the motion filed in Allred v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 19-80922-Civ-RNS, ECF No. 23,
Pl.'s Mot. (S.D. Fla. Oct. 8, 2019), apply in
this case, she may refile an amended motion in this
case, taking care that she raises only discovery issues that
are particular to her own case.