United States District Court, D. New Jersey
CHAD UDEEN and MARY JANE JEFFERY, et al., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC., et al. Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SCHNEIDER United States Magistrate Judge.
Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses defendants'
request that all discovery be stayed until their Motion to
Dismiss [Doc. No. 28] filed on February 28, 2019 is decided.
Plaintiffs oppose defendants' request. The Court received
the parties' letter briefs [Doc. Nos. 29, 30] and held
oral argument. For the reasons to be discussed,
defendants' request is denied with the proviso that only
limited and focused discovery on core issues will be
permitted. The permitted discovery is listed in this Order.
present purposes it is enough to know that plaintiffs brought
this putative nationwide class action alleging that Subaru
sold and leased its cars with a defective Starlink
infotainment system. Plaintiffs allege, inter alia,
the defect creates a safety hazard. Defendants deny all
liability allegations. Not unexpectedly plaintiffs believe
defendants' motion to dismiss will be denied in whole or
in part. However, defendants acknowledge that even if their
motion is granted in toto, some express warranty
claims of the California plaintiffs will remain.
applicable law is straightforward and for the most part not
in dispute. Since the parties are already familiar with this
Court's decisions addressing whether a stay should be
entered, the applicable law will not be set forth in detail.
As the Court noted in Gerald Chalames Corp. v. OKI Data
Americas, Inc., 246 F.D.D. 453, 454 (D.N.J. 2007), the
mere filing of a motion to dismiss does not stay discovery.
The factors to examine whether a stay should be entered
include: (1) whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present
a clear tactical disadvantage to the non-moving party; (2)
whether denial of the stay would create a clear case of
hardship or inequity for the moving party; (3) whether a stay
would simplify the issues and the trial of the case; and (4)
whether discovery is complete and/or a trial date has been
set. Jackson v. Trump Entrainment Resorts, Inc.,
C.A. 13-1605 (JHR/JS), 2015 WL 13637411, at *4 (D.N.J. Feb.
11, 2015). After examining all relevant evidence, the Court
finds the relevant factors weigh in plaintiffs' favor
and, therefore, the Court will deny defendants' request
to stay all discovery.
Court agrees that plaintiffs will be prejudiced if all
discovery is stayed while waiting for defendants' motion
to be decided. Given the extensive briefing on
defendants' motion and the expected time it will take for
the motion to be decided, the case will be in suspense for
months if defendants' request is granted. Having filed
their complaint plaintiffs have a right to move forward.
See Costantino v. City of Atlantic City, C.A. No.
13-6667 (RBKIJS), 2015WL 668161, at *3 (D.N.J. Feb. 17, 2015)
(a delay in plaintiffs' efforts to diligently proceed
with their claims substantially prejudices plaintiffs). This
is especially true in a case where plaintiffs claim the
alleged defect in defendants' vehicles is a safety
hazard. Further, the longer the case languishes the greater
chance exists that relevant evidence may be lost or
destroyed. See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681,
707-08 (1997) (“[D]elaying trial would increase the
danger of prejudice resulting from the loss of evidence
including the inability of witnesses to recall specific
facts, or the possible death of a party”); New York
v. Hill, 528 U.S. 110, 117 (2000) (“Delay can lead
to a less accurate outcome as witnesses become unavailable
and memories fade.”)
favoring plaintiffs is the fact that defendants will not be
prejudiced, nor will they suffer “undue hardship,
” if limited discovery goes forward. The Court does not
expect the Court-Ordered discovery to be unduly time
consuming or expensive. Further, since the discovery will
focus on core issues, the requested discovery should be
readily available. In addition, defendants acknowledge
discovery will go forward even if their motion to dismiss is
granted in toto. Thus, discovery as to
plaintiffs' claims is inevitable.
concern about “extremely expensive” discovery is
overblown. As is always the case, the Court expects to
closely manage discovery to assure that plaintiffs'
efforts are proportional. Further, contrary to
defendants' argument, a discovery stay will not simplify
the issues for trial. In fact, the opposite is true. The
parties initial discovery will focus on the core issues in
the case to assure that only the most relevant and important
discovery is produced. This discovery will be produced no
matter what claims remain in the case. The discovery will
serve to educate plaintiffs concerning the most important
individuals and issues in the case. In the long run the Court
expects defendants to benefit from this staging so that the
parties do not chase discovery “down a rabbit
hole.” The fact that the case is at an early stage and
no trial date has been set is not a persuasive relevant
factor to the Court's decision. It is almost always the
case that a trial date is not set before a motion to dismiss
Court is not insensitive to defendants' concerns about
proceeding with discovery while their motion to dismiss is
outstanding. Nonetheless, by closely managing the discovery
process and only permitting discovery on core issues, the
goals of Fed.R.Civ.P. 1 will be furthered, i.e., to secure
the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every
action and proceeding. The Court's resolution is fair to
all parties. On the one hand plaintiffs can immediately
proceed to obtain plainly relevant and important core
discovery. On the other hand, the “floodgates” of
discovery will not open until defendants' motion is
decided and the issues to be litigated are
it is hereby ORDERED this 12th day of March, 2019,
that defendants' request for a complete stay of discovery
while its Motion to Dismiss remains to be decided is DENIED;
and it is further ORDERED as follows:
April 15, 2019, defendants shall produce all
documentslisted in nos. 1-5 on page 5 of its March
8, 2019 letter [Doc. No. 29].
April 15, 2019, plaintiffs shall produce all documents
regarding their purchase of the subject Subaru vehicles and
all documents regarding their complaints about and ...