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Anthony Williams v. New York State Office

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


June 8, 2011

ANTHONY WILLIAMS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Orenstein, Magistrate Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

The defendants move to stay discovery pending determination of their anticipated motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim. See Docket Entry ("DE") 97 (Motion to Stay Discovery) ("Mot.") at 1-2 & n.2; DE 102 (approved briefing schedule). At a status conference on May 2, 2011, I set a briefing schedule, pursuant to which any opposition to the motion by plaintiff Anthony Williams ("Williams") was due by May 31, 2011. See DE 94 (minute entry). To date, Williams has filed no opposition, nor has he requested additional time to respond to the motion to stay; I therefore consider it unopposed.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), "a district court may stay discovery during the pendency of a motion to dismiss for 'good cause' shown." Hollins v. United States Tennis Ass'n., 469 F. Supp. 2d 67, 78 (E.D.N.Y. 2006). The following factors may be considered in determining whether a stay is warranted: "(1) whether there has been a strong showing that the claim is unmeritorious; (2) the breadth of discovery and the burden of responding to it; . (3) the risk of unfair prejudice to the party opposing the stay[;] (4) the nature and complexity of the action; and (5) the posture of the litigation." Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc. v. Simple.com, Inc., 247 F.R.D. 63, 69 (E.D.N.Y. 2007). A stay of discovery pending resolution of a potentially dispositive motion is appropriate "where the motion appear[s] to have substantial grounds or, stated another way, do[es] not appear to be without foundation in law." Johnson v. N. Y. Univ. Sch. of Educ., 205 F.R.D. 433, 434 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (internal quotations and citations omitted; alterations in original); accord Computer Assocs., 247 F.R.D. at 69.

The defendants represent that their motion for judgment on the pleadings will assert the following grounds for dismissal: the complaint fails to state a claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1983; the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars review by the district court of the underlying state court judgments; and the individual and state defendants are entitled to various qualified and absolute immunity defenses. See Mot. at 1-2 & n.2. The defendants appear to have a substantial basis in the law for their arguments. Additionally, although this case was filed on March 5, 2010, it is still at a preliminary stage, and any discovery would likely be highly burdensome, involving a great deal of information and numerous parties. In short, weighing the potential burden of responding to discovery against the potential prejudice to Williams, I conclude that the circumstances favor a stay. I therefore grant the defendants' motion and stay all discovery pending the resolution of the defendants' dispositive motion. I direct the defendants' counsel promptly to provide a copy of this Memorandum and Order to the plaintiff.

JAMES ORENSTEIN U.S. Magistrate Judge

20110608

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