United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
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,
THE CITY OF DALLAS, TEXAS, and AMBER GUYGER, Defendants.
to U.S. Magistrate Judge 
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CARRILLO RAMIREZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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
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.) 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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
determining whether “special circumstances”
warrant a stay of an action pending parallel criminal
proceedings, courts in this district have considered six
(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 ...