United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. LORI L. CARVER, Plaintiff,
PHYSICIANS PAIN SPECIALISTS OF ALABAMA, P.C., et al., Defendants.
KATHERINE P. NELSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action is before the Court on the “Motion to Stay
Discovery and Quash Relator's Subpoena Duces Tecum to Lou
Paravate” (Doc. 182) filed by Defendant Castle Medical,
LLC (“Castle”). The Court has referred the motion
to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for appropriate action
under 28 U.S.C. § 636(a)-(b), Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 72, and S.D. Ala. GenLR 72(a). See S.D.
Ala. GenLR 72(b); (8/3/2017 & 4/16/2018 electronic
referral). Relator Lori L. Carver has filed a response (Doc.
185) to the motion, Castle has filed a reply (Doc. 187) to
the response, and the motion is now under submission
(see Doc. 183).
October 27, 2017, the Court granted judgment on the pleadings
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) in favor of
Castle on all claims against it in Carver's second
amended complaint. (See Doc. 146). However, on April
3, 2018, the Court, over Castle's opposition, vacated
that grant of judgment on the pleadings and granted Carver
leave to file a third amended complaint. (See Doc.
175). Castle's subject motion requests that discovery in
this action be stayed until the Court has ruled on
Castle's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss the third amended complaint (Doc. 184). In
response, Carver believes that she should be entitled to
engage in discovery just as if no motion to stay had been
filed, ” but alternatively asserts she is willing
“to pursue only the taking of Mr. Paravate's
deposition and to pursue any responsive documents that her
lawyers believe have not yet been produced” to
discovery responses served prior to the previous grant of
judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 185 at 1). In reply, Castle
continues to insist for a stay of all discovery pending a
ruling on its Rule 12(b)(6) motion.
Court has wide discretion in setting discovery limits.
See, e.g., Liese v. Indian River Cty. Hosp.
Dist., 701 F.3d 334, 354 (11th Cir. 2012). Previously,
the undersigned denied Castle's motion to stay discovery
pending the Court's ruling on its motion for judgment on
the pleadings, concluding that Castle had unreasonably
delayed in both filing its Rule 12(c) motion and requesting a
stay of discovery, and had failed to show at the time that
its Rule 12(c) motion was so clearly meritorious as to
warrant a stay of discovery pending disposition of the
motion. (See Doc. 139). However, given the current
circumstances and procedural posture of the case, the
undersigned finds that Castle's present motion for a
complete stay of discovery is due to be granted.
when Castle previously attempted to short-circuit discovery
after voluntarily allowing it to commence and significantly
proceed, discovery between Castle and Carver has been at a
standstill for over five months between the grant of judgment
on the pleadings and the filing of the third amended
complaint. This will likely necessitate amending the Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) schedule; indeed, Carver has
indicated her intent to file a motion to do so. (See
Doc. 106; Doc. 185 at 1 n.1). Moreover, this time Castle has
promptly sought dismissal of the operative complaint under
has already received a second chance to plead her claims
against Castle after choosing to defend, unsuccessfully, the
sufficiency of her allegations in the second amended
complaint on the merits, rather than attempting to amend her
complaint prior to dismissal under Rule 15(a)(2) to address
the deficiencies noted in Castle's Rule 12(c) motion with
the discovery she had already received (as she has apparently
done in her third amended complaint). Generally,
“[d]iscovery should follow the filing of a well-pleaded
complaint. It is not a device to enable a plaintiff to make a
case when his complaint has failed to state a claim.”
Kaylor v. Fields, 661 F.2d 1177, 1184 (8th Cir.
1981) (quoted favorably in Chudasama v. Mazda Motor
Corp., 123 F.3d 1353, 1367 (11th Cir. 1997)). Given that
Castle successfully obtained dismissal of Carver's second
amended complaint for failure to adequately plead its claims,
and given the significant amount of time discovery between
Castle and Carver has been at a stand-still since the third
amended complaint was filed - a delay which will likely
require extending discovery and related deadlines anyway -
the undersigned concludes that Castle should be given the
chance to obtain dismissal once more before being subjected
to further discovery in this action, and that Carver will not
be significantly prejudiced by any such delay.
it is ORDERED that Castle's second
motion to stay (Doc. 182) is GRANTED and
that all discovery in this action is STAYED
pending the Court's ruling on Castle's pending Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the third amended complaint (Doc.
184). This stay of discovery shall dissolve
without further court order the day following
the date the Court enters an order completely disposing of
Castle's Rule 12(b)(6) motion (Doc. 184). To the extent
any party believes it necessary to amend the Rule 16(b)
scheduling order (Doc. 106) thereafter, the party should file
a motion for such relief under Rule 16(b)(4).
 The District Judge affirmed that
decision after objection was made under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 72(a). (See Doc. 143).
 As for Carver's assertion that she
should at least be allowed to further pursue discovery that
was sought prior to the grant of judgment on the pleadings,
the undersigned is not persuaded that denying her the ability
to do so works any fundamental unfairness. Subject to any
Rule 16(b) deadline for dispositive motions, a party may move
for judgment on the pleadings at any time “after the
pleadings are closed…but early enough not to delay
trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Thus, Rule 12(c) clearly
contemplates that such a motion could be brought and granted
while discovery is ongoing, resulting in discovery requests
served prior to the grant of judgment going unanswered, and
depositions noticed prior to the grant of judgment left
 Castle's motion also requested
that the Court quash the deposition of Lou Paravate that
Carver had noticed for May 2, 2018 (see Doc. 180).
In her response, filed April 23, 2018, Carver represents
“that Castle's counsel has advised that the May 2
date presents a conflict” and that her counsel
“have expressed their willingness to find a substitute
date suitable to everyone.” (Doc. 185 at 2 n.3). Given
that Carver voluntarily ...