United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FLOWERS CONTI, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is a motion to stay proceedings pending a
right to know request or a motion for limited discovery filed
by Plaintiff Christopher Gibbs (“Gibbs”) (ECF No.
34). Defendant City of Pittsburgh (the “City”)
filed a brief in response to the motion (ECF No. 36) and the
motion is ripe for decision.
and Procedural Background
alleges that he was deprived of a position on the City of
Pittsburgh police force because of his Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”), in violation of
the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42
U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act
(“RA”), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. On May 3,
2019, the court dismissed Gibbs' original complaint,
holding that he failed to plead sufficient facts to plausibly
establish (1) that he was qualified for the position; or (2)
disabled. (ECF No. 19). The court authorized Gibbs to file an
amended complaint on one narrow theory recognized by the
United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in
Cook v. City of Philadelphia, 649 Fed.Appx. 174 (3d
Cir. 2016). Gibbs was required to plead facts to show that
the City discriminated against him by either: (1) selecting
examining psychologists because the City knew those
psychologists would be biased based on Gibbs' ADHD; or
(2) imposing pressure on the examining psychologists to reach
an adverse decision based on Gibbs' ADHD. Gibbs filed an
amended complaint and the City filed a motion to dismiss the
case with prejudice.
filed a Right to Know Act request, seeking production of the
psychologists' reports. In the pending motion, Gibbs asks
the court to refrain from ruling on the motion to dismiss
until his Right to Know Act request is resolved. In the
alternative, Gibbs asks the court to order the City to
produce the psychologists' reports upon which it claims
to have based its decision. Gibbs did not cite to any legal
authority for either request.
City does not object to a stay while the Right to Know
request is pending. This aspect of Gibbs' motion will
therefore be GRANTED. The case will be stayed until the court
is notified that the Right to Know request is no longer
pending. Gibbs shall file a notice to the court within one
week of the resolution of the Right to Know request.
City does object, however, to any discovery. The City cites
numerous decisions for the proposition that discovery cannot
be used to fix shortcomings in the complaint. Rule 11
requires a plaintiff to conduct a reasonable inquiry
before filing a lawsuit. See, e.g., Gross v.
Stryker Corp., 858 F.Supp.2d 466, 504 (W.D. Pa. 2012)
(“the Court finds Plaintiff's request for discovery
to be inapposite to Rule 8 and Rule 11(b) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure”). The court in Gross
cited the Supreme Court's comment in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009), that a conclusory
complaint “does not unlock the doors of
discovery.” The court also quoted Timmons v.
Linvatec Corp., 263 F.R.D. 582, 585 (C.D.Cal.2010), for
the proposition that “a plaintiff who fails to meet the
pleading requirements of Rule 8 is not entitled to conduct
discovery with the hope that it might permit [him] to state a
claim.” Accord Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 686 (if a
“complaint is deficient under Rule 8, [plaintiff] is
not entitled to discovery, cabined or otherwise.”).
case, Gibbs' first complaint failed to state a valid
claim and the viability of Gibbs' amended complaint is
being challenged. The City's motion to dismiss the
amended complaint in its entirety, with prejudice, is
pending. Under these circumstances, Gibbs' request for
discovery, however cabined, is premature, particularly when
Gibbs has asked the court to refrain from ruling on the
City's motion. This aspect of Gibbs' motion will be
accordance with the foregoing, the motion to stay proceedings
pending a right to know request or motion for limited
discovery filed by Gibbs (ECF No. 34) will be GRANTED IN PART
AND DENIED IN PART. The case will be stayed until the Right
to Know request is no longer pending. During that period this
case will be administratively closed without prejudice to the
case being reopened upon Gibbs' attorney filing a notice
to the court and a request to reopen the case within one week
of the resolution of the Right to Know request. Gibbs'
request for discovery prior to resolution of the pending
motion to dismiss the amended complaint will be DENIED.
appropriate order follows.
this 5th day of September, 2019, in accordance
with the memorandum opinion, it is hereby ordered that the
motion to stay proceedings pending a right to know request or
motion for limited discovery filed by Plaintiff Christopher