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Staying a Civil Case is Proper When Awaiting the Results of a Criminal Case

In the case of Mason v. Bloom-Carroll Loc. Sch. Dist., et al., S.D. Ohio No. 2:22-cv-3668 (Jan. 26, 2023), a federal district court held that a party is permitted to request a stay before filing responsive pleading and that a stay is appropriate when there is a significant overlap between a criminal case and a civil case.

In this case, the student argued that (1) the teacher never filed a responsive pleading to the complaint prior to requesting leave and, therefore, does not have the ability to file a motion to stay and (2) that staying discovery will result in unfair prejudice to the student. In response, the teacher argued that (1) a responsive pleading to the complaint is not required before a court may stay a case and (2) staying discovery is necessary when proceeding would interfere with the teacher’s ability to present a defense in the criminal case. The federal district court agreed with the teacher.

In support of its decision in favor of the teacher, the federal district court explained that it has “broad discretion in determining whether to stay a civil action while a criminal action is pending or impending.” Opinion and Order at 4. The federal district court further explained that because (1) the criminal trial was occurring at the same time as the civil case on the same alleged conduct, (2) the teacher has already been indicted for the offense and is likely to make incriminating statement if both cases proceed concurrently, (3) civil discovery is likely to burden the teacher’s ability to assert the right to remain silent, and (4) the public interest in a speedy and effective criminal trial outweighs civil interests, the stay is necessary in this case.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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