United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
Terence C. Kern United States District Judge.
the Court is a Motion to Stay filed by Defendant 71 at Tulsa
Hills Apartments, L.P. and Simmons Commercial, L.L.C.
(“Defendants”), seeking a stay of all discovery
pending the October 3, 2019 settlement conference. Defendants
also plan to submit their proposal to remediate alleged
violations of the Fair Housing Act raised in Plaintiff's
Complaint and expert report on or before September 15, 2019.
(Doc. 17.) Defendants argue, inter alia, that
staying discovery is in the interest of judicial economy and
the public interest, as it will allow them to engage in
voluntary remediation and potentially obviate the need for
further litigation. Plaintiff opposes any stay of discovery,
arguing that there is no outstanding or contemplated fact
discovery necessary in this case and that dispositive motions
may help “crystalize the issues for settlement.”
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court to control the disposition of the causes on
its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for
counsel, and for litigants.” Landis, et. al. v.
North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936).
Additionally, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 26(c) provides for an order preventing
discovery to prevent “annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense.” However, this
Court does not routinely grant such requests absent a
compelling reason. See Jane Phillips Mem'l.
Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Giovan, No. 17-cv-232-TCK-FHM, 2017
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104213, *1-3 (N.D. Okla. July 6, 2017) (stay
pursuant to Rule 26(c)); TSM Assocs. LLC v. Tractor
Supply Co., No. 08-CV-230-JHP-FHM, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
45784 (N.D. Okla. June 11, 2008). Relevant factors to
determine whether to grant a stay include (1) the
plaintiff's interests in proceeding expeditiously with
the civil action and the potential prejudice to the plaintiff
of a delay; (2) the burden on the defendants; (3) the
convenience to the court; (4) the interests of persons not
parties to the civil litigation; and (5) the public interest.
See Jane Phillips Mem'l Med. Ctr., 2017 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 104213, *1-3.
Court finds compelling reasons to stay discovery. First, it
appears that Plaintiff will suffer no prejudice due to a
stay, as Plaintiff has not alleged any actual plans to move
to the property that is the subject of this litigation, and
appears to concede that he is a “tester.” (Doc.
1; Doc. 20, pg. 6.) Additionally, the requested stay is
designed to facilitate swift remediation of the alleged
accessibility barriers and settlement of the instant action,
benefitting both Plaintiff and persons not party to the
instant litigation who may be harmed by the alleged
accessibility barriers. Moreover, Defendants' requested
stay is only two months long, and will not significantly
delay litigation if settlement efforts are unsuccessful.
it appears that Defendants will experience some burden in the
absence of a stay. Contrary to Plaintiff's argument that
the parties have planned no further discovery, Defendants
argue that they would engage in further discovery, and submit
an expert report, in the absence of a stay. (Doc. 17, pg. 7.)
Similarly, though Plaintiff argues that dispositive motions
may crystalize the issues for settlement, it appears that
proceeding in discovery and drafting dispositive motions may
undermine the parties' ongoing efforts in remediation and
settlement-Defendants have expressed an interest in
submitting a voluntary remediation plan based on
Plaintiff's expert report, and will be impeded in doing
so if they must devote time and resources to completing
discovery and drafting dispositive motions. “It is more
likely that defendants will be able to engage in additional
site remediation if they can avoid unnecessary litigation
expenses.” See Dana Bowman v. Griffin Properties of
Fort Smith, L.L.C. et al, No. 19-cv-00179 (N.D. Okla.
July 3, 2019).
considerations of efficiency, judicial economy, and the
public interest favor granting a stay. Both parties have
expressed interest in pre-trial remediation, and such
remediation may limit the scope of this litigation, or
obviate the case entirely. The public also has an interest
both in addressing any accessibility barriers and in
providing incentives for companies to engage in swift,
Motion to Stay (Doc. 17) is GRANTED and all
discovery is STAYED pending the October 3,
2019 settlement conference. If the case is not settled before
or during the settlement conference, the Court will enter a
new Scheduling Order following the settlement conference. The
current scheduling order (Doc. 11) is
STRICKEN, except as to the deadline for
motions to join or amend and the deadline for exchange of
witness lists and proposed exhibits, which have already
expired. However, the Settlement Conference Order (Doc. 13)
remains in effect.
Motion to Expedite Ruling (Doc. 18) is DENED AS
Cross-Motion to Extend Certain Deadlines (Doc. 21) is
DENIED AS MOOT.
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 25) is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.