United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
OPINION & ORDER
MICHAEL R. BARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon Plaintiffs' Motion to
Stay Discovery to Prevent Interference in Parallel
Proceedings. (Doc. 87). Defendants have filed a Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. 91) and Plaintiffs filed a Reply. (Doc. 92).
case arises from the death of Zachary Goldson, an inmate
found dead in his cell at the Brown County Jail. (Doc. 10).
Plaintiffs were officers employed by the Brown County
Sheriff's Office at the time of Goldson's death.
Defendant Dr. Varnau is the former Brown County Coroner who
investigated Goldson's death. Defendant Dennis Varnau is
the husband of Dr. Varnau. Dr. Varnau authorized her husband
to assist her in her duties as coroner.
November 30, 2013, Dr. Varnau wrote on Goldson's death
certificate that the manner of death was a homicide by
strangulation. Dr. Varnau specified that it was from a nylon
leash called a hobble strap used by police officers as a
restraint. This opinion was based on the investigation
conducted by Dr. Varnau and Dennis Varnau. The Varnaus also
authored a “Coroner's Investigative Report on Death
of Zachary Goldson-October 5, 2013” based on the
information they collected from the investigation. The
Varnau's report accused Plaintiff John Schadle of
destroying evidence and covering up Goldson's murder. The
Varnaus' report was published to news agencies. The
Varnaus named specific officers to the press, sent emails
with attachments and their investigatory findings to BCI, and
sent the coroner's report including surveillance footage,
phone calls and autopsy and scene photos to the press. Their
findings were also published on their website
December 11, 2014, the grand jury returned with a no bill
because they did not find sufficient probable cause to indict
any of the Plaintiffs.
claim that as a result of the Varnaus' actions,
Plaintiffs have been referred to as the “Death
Squad” by the community. Plaintiffs also claim that the
citizens of Brown County have been uncooperative with law
enforcement, and labeled them as murderers, manipulative and
corrupt. Further, Plaintiffs' children have been harassed
at school by their peers.
this Court's ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
(Doc. 30), only Plaintiffs' claims for defamation and
civil conspiracy remain.
are named defendants in a related case: Ashley Bard v.
Brown County, et al., No. 1:15cv643. This is a parallel
case to a wrongful death case brought by the family of
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court to control the disposition of the causes on
its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for
counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. North
American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254, 57 S.Ct. 163, 81 L.Ed.
153 (1936). The movant bears the burden of showing
a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go
forward, if there is even a fair possibility that the stay
for which he prays will work damage to someone else. Only in
rare circumstances will a litigant in one cause be compelled
to stand aside while a litigant in another settles the rule
of law that will define the rights of both.
299 U.S. at 255, 57 S.Ct. at 166. “The most important
factor is the balance of the hardships, but ‘[t]he
district court must also consider whether granting the stay
will further the interest in economical use of judicial time
and resources.'” F.T.C. v. E.M.A. Nationwide,
Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 627-28 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing
Int'l Bhd. of Elec. Workers v. AT & T Network
Sys., No. 88-3895, 879 F.2d 864, 1989 WL 78212, at *8
(6th Cir. Jul. 17, 1989) (internal citations omitted)).
determining whether or not to grant a stay of proceedings,
courts have considered the following factors: “ the
potentiality of another case having a dispositive effect on
the case to be stayed,  the judicial economy to be saved
by waiting on a dispositive decision,  the public welfare,
and  the hardship/prejudice to the party opposing the
stay, given its duration.” Dugas v. Wittrup,