United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
BRAMLETTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court on defendants Pike County,
Mississippi and Pike County Sheriff's Deputy Warren
Gilmore's Motion for an Order Providing Discovery
Protection Under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act
(“MTCA”), Miss. Code Ann. § 11-46-1, et
sec. (docket entry 49).
instant case arises out of the January 26, 2017, arrest of
plaintiff Zachary Patterson by the City of McComb Police
Department. See Plaintiff's Amended Complaint
(docket entry 13). The plaintiff contends that his arrest and
incarceration violated both Federal and State law.
their Answer (docket entry 20) to the plaintiff's Amended
Complaint, Pike County and Deputy Gilmore invoke each and
every privilege, immunity, and restriction and/or limitation
of the MTCA, including, but not limited to, the provisions
outlined in Sections 11-46-3, 11-46-5, 11-46-7, 11-46-9,
11-46-11, 11-46-13, and 11-46-15 of the MTCA.
on July 20, 2018, Pike County and Deputy Gilmore filed, among
other things, a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (docket
entry 26) asserting that they are entitled to immunity under
the MTCA as to the plaintiff's state law claims. That
motion is currently pending before the Court.
August 9, 2018, plaintiff Patterson filed his Response in
Opposition to Motion to Stay (docket entry 39) and,
simultaneously, his Motion to Lift the Automatic Stay (docket
entry 40). The plaintiff argues that he has asserted state
law claims to which Deputy Gilmore's qualified immunity
defense does not apply. Therefore, the plaintiff contends
that he should “be allowed to proceed with discovery on
his state law claims” in spite of the Automatic Stay
(L.U.Civ.R. 16). Id.
the plain language of Local Civil Rule 16(b)(3) clearly
provides that filing a motion based on immunity defenses
stays all discovery in a case. See L.U.Civ.R.
16(b)(3)(B). In addition,
[f]iling a ... motion asserting an immunity defense ... stays
the attorney conference and disclosure requirements and all
discovery, pending the court's ruling on the motion,
including any appeal. Whether to permit discovery on issues
related to the motion and whether to permit any portion of
the case to proceed pending resolution of the motion are
decisions committed to the discretion of the court, upon a
motion by any party seeking relief.
Id. This obviously includes discovery on claims
unrelated to the immunity defense. Local Rule 16(b)(3)(B)
contemplates that all discovery, including that pertaining to
state law claims, be stayed.
Local Rule 16 does state that it is within the Court's
discretion as to whether or not “any portion” of
the case should proceed pending resolution of the immunity
motion, the Court finds that the stay should not be lifted
for the reasons set forth below:
as the plaintiff notes in his Motion, his “Section 1983
claims and his state law claims are predicated on the same
facts.” Motion to Lift Automatic Stay (docket entry 40,
p.5). Thus, lifting the stay and allowing discovery to go
forward on the state law claims would wholly undermine Deputy
Gilmore's right to discovery protection under Section
Rule 16 and Fifth Circuit precedent, which necessitate a stay
in this matter under Deputy Gilmore's qualified immunity
defense, do not anticipate an end run around the stay by
allowing discovery on related claims. Imani v. City of
Baton Rouge, 2018 WL 2208221, at *6-7 (M.D. La. May 14,
2018)(noting that allowing discovery to proceed against other
defendants fails to consider the basic thrust of qualified
immunity - to free officials from the concerns of litigation,
including avoidance of disruptive discovery). Allowing
discovery on state law claims based on the same facts as the
federal claims would wholly undermine the Rule 16 Stay.
addition, the MTCA and its interpreting case law necessitate
a stay in this matter. The plaintiff's state law claims
against Pike County and Deputy Gilmore are governed
exclusively by the MTCA. Notably, although the MTCA waives
sovereign immunity as a whole, it contains a number of
restrictions, limitations, and immunities.
County and Deputy Gilmore have filed a Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings that pertains to the plaintiff's state law
claims, asking that they be dismissed based on application of