Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jean v. The City of Dallas

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

September 22, 2019

BERTRUM JEAN, individually and as the surviving father of Bothan Shem Jean, ALLISON A. JEAN, individually and as the surviving mother of Botham Shem Jean, and ALLISON E. FINDLEY as the Administrator of the Estate of Botham Shem Jean, Plaintiffs,

         Referred to U.S. Magistrate Judge [1]



         Before the Court is Defendant Amber Guyger's Motion to Stay this Action Pending Resolution of her Criminal Case, and Brief in Support, filed March 22, 2019 (doc. 24). Based on the relevant filings and applicable law, the motion is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 26, 2018, Bertrum Jean and Allison A. Jean, individually and as the surviving parents of Botham Shem Jean (Jean), and Allisa E. Findley, as the administrator of the estate of Botham Shem Jean (collectively, Plaintiffs), filed this lawsuit against the City of Dallas (the City) and former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger (Officer) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of Jean's Fourth Amendment rights. (docs. 1; 5 at 1-2.)[2] They seek actual damages, exemplary damages against Officer, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, court costs, and attorney's fees. (doc. 5 at 25-27.)

         On September 6, 2018, Officer returned to her apartment complex after working a thirteen-hour patrol shift. (Id. at 4-5.) After arriving at the complex, she walked to apartment number 1478, which was Jean's apartment, not hers. (Id. at 5.) She opened the door to the apartment and “discovered Jean in a seated position on his sofa.” (Id. at 6.) Officer drew her service weapon and shot Jean in the chest “although he was unarmed and not attempting to harm her or any other person.” (Id.) Officer then called her attorney and 9-1-1 to report the incident. (Id.) Paramedics and additional law enforcement personnel arrived on scene and began treating Jean, but he died after being transported to a nearby hospital. (Id. at 7.) On November 30, 2018, a Dallas County grand jury indicted Officer for murder. (doc. 25 at 5, 7.) The criminal case is pending under state cause number F-1800737, and was initially set for trial on August 12, 2019. (Id. at 3, 5, 7.)

         On January 8, 2019, Officer signed a waiver of service, giving her until March 8, 2019 to respond to Plaintiffs' complaint in this case. (doc. 14.) On March 8, 2019, Officer filed a motion to extend time to file her answer or motion in response to the complaint, which was granted, and her deadline was extended until March 22, 2019. (docs. 22, 23.) On that date, Officer filed a motion to stay this case until her criminal case is resolved, claiming that the necessary “special circumstances” have been met. (doc. 24.) Plaintiffs filed their response on April 12, 2019, and Officer filed her reply on April 26, 2019. (docs. 27-28.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         “[A] district court may stay a civil proceeding during the pendency of a parallel criminal proceeding. Such a stay contemplates ‘special circumstances' and the need to avoid ‘substantial and irreparable prejudice.'” United States v. Little Al, 712 F.2d 133, 136 (5th Cir. 1983) (citing SEC v. First Fin. Grp. of Tex., Inc., 659 F.2d 660, 668 (5th Cir. 1981)).

As the Fifth Circuit has instructed, in ruling on requests for stays of the civil side of parallel civil/criminal proceedings, [j]udicial discretion and procedural flexibility should be utilized to harmonize the conflicting rules and to prevent the rules and policies applicable to one suit from doing violence to those pertaining to the other. In some situations it may be appropriate to stay the civil proceeding. In others it may be preferable for the civil suit to proceed unstayed.

United States v. Gieger Transfer Serv., Inc., 174 F.R.D. 382, 385 (S.D.Miss. 1997) (quoting Campbell v. Eastland, 307 F.2d 478, 487 (5th Cir. 1962)) (internal quotations omitted). Additionally, [i]n the proper case the trial judge should use [her] discretion to narrow the range of discovery” rather than staying the entire case.” Campbell, 307 F.2d at 487.

         In determining whether “special circumstances” warrant a stay of an action pending parallel criminal proceedings, courts in this district have considered six factors:

(1) the extent to which the issues in the criminal case overlap with those presented in the civil case; (2) the status of the criminal case, including whether the defendants have been indicted; (3) the private interests of the plaintiffs in proceeding expeditiously, weighed against the prejudice to plaintiffs caused by the delay; (4) the private interests of and burden on the defendants; (5) the interests of the courts; and (6) the public interest.

Walker v. Witburn, No. 3:12-CV-4896-D, 2015 WL 5873392, at *5 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 5, 2015) (citing cases); see also Librado v. M.S. Carriers, Inc., No. Civ.A. 3:02-CV-2095D, 2002 WL 31495988, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 05, 2002) (citing Trs. of Plumbers & Pipefitters Nat'l Pension Fund v. Transworld Mech., Inc., 886 F.Supp. 1134, 1139 (S.D. N.Y. 1995) & Volmar Distribs., Inc. v. TheN.Y. Post Co., 152 F.R.D. 36, 39 (S.D. N.Y. 1993)); Heller Healthcare ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.