Itha v. Stafford
Defendant Requested Temporary Stay Until Criminal Charges Resolve
Civil Procedure | Discovery | Motion Practice | Torts | Personal Injury | Motor Vehicles | Criminal Law | Motor Vehicles (Criminal)
- Stamford/Norwalk J.D., at Stamford
- Mar 27 2014 (Date Decided)
- Truglia, J.
Practice Book §13-5 permits a court the discretion, “for good cause shown,” to grant a stay of discovery to protect a party from “annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” On Jan. 11, 2013, the defendant, Alexa Stafford, allegedly was driving a leased motor vehicle on North State Street in Stamford, Conn. The defendant allegedly collided with the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs sued Stafford and alleged that she operated under the influence of alcohol, drove too quickly and ran a light. The police charged Stafford with operating under the influence, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes §14-227a; possession of alcohol by a minor, in violation of C.G.S. §30-89; reckless operation, in violation of C.G.S. §14-222; failure to obey a traffic signal in violation of C.G.S. §14-299; and second-degree assault, in violation of C.G.S. §53a-60d. Stafford filed a motion to stay discovery in the civil action, pursuant to Practice Book §13-5, until criminal charges are resolved. Stafford argued that a temporary stay will not inconvenience the court or cause significant prejudice to the plaintiffs, because the civil case remains in the early stages. The plaintiffs objected that a stay is not required to protect Stafford’s rights and that a stay of indefinite duration would be highly prejudicial. When ruling on a motion to stay discovery, a court may consider: 1.) the interests of the plaintiff in an expeditious resolution and the prejudice to the plaintiff from the stay; 2.) the interests of and burden on the defendant; 3.) the convenience to the court in managing the court’s docket; 4.) the interests of other individuals; and 5.) the interests of the public. The court found that Stafford requested a stay of indefinite duration. The plaintiffs are entitled to conduct discovery while memories remain fresh and evidence is available. Stafford can invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself. The court denied Stafford’s motion. “Stafford’s request for a temporary stay until final resolution of the criminal charges,” wrote the court, “would cause undue prejudice to the plaintiffs in this case,” and “denying it does not impose on her an unconstitutionally proscribed burden.”