United States District Court, D. Maryland
December 7, 2015
Joseph Crystal, Plaintiff: A Donald C Discepolo, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Alan Burton Neurick, Discepolo LLP, Baltimore, MD.
Anthony W. Batts, Baltimore Police Commissioner, In his
official capacity, Baltimore City Police Department,
Defendants: Colin Patrick Glynn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Baltimore
City Law Department, Legal Affairs Division, Baltimore, MD.
Robert Amador, Sergeant, In his official capacity and
personal capacity, Defendant: Neil E Duke, LEAD ATTORNEY,
Christopher C Dahl, Kelly M Preteroti, Ober Kaler Grimes and
Shriver PC, Baltimore, MD.
K. Bredar, United States District Judge.
civil rights case was brought by Joseph Crystal against
former Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts,
Sergeant Robert Amador, and the Baltimore City Police
Department (" BPD" ). (Compl., ECF No. 1.) It
alleges retaliation by Defendants against Crystal for his
speech protected under both the federal and state
constitutions. Previously, the Court granted in part and
denied in part Defendants' motions to dismiss. (ECF Nos.
33, 34.) Following Defendants' answers to the remainder
of the complaint (ECF Nos. 35, 38) the Court held a
conference with counsel and entered a scheduling order that
provided for discovery and dispositive motions (ECF No. 44).
Pending before the Court is the motion by BPD and Batts to
bifurcate and to stay discovery. (ECF No. 37.) The motion has
been briefed (ECF Nos. 45, 47), and no hearing is required,
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). It will be denied.
Batts argue that the Court should, pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 42(b), " bifurcate the trial of the
Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Robert Amador from
the claims against the BPD and Defendant Batts, and to
(except as necessary for the resolution of claims against
Defendant Amador) stay discovery against the BPD and
Defendant Batts pending resolution of Plaintiff's claims
made against Defendant Amador." (Defs.' Mot. 1.)
They contend doing so " will substantially decrease the
risk of prolonged and burdensome litigation, conserve
judicial resources, serve as a more effective method of
testing the sufficiency of the Plaintiffs' [ sic
] claims, and will protect the BPD, Commissioner Batts, and
Defendant Amador against the possibility of prejudice."
( Id. )
Court is well aware of the usefulness of the bifurcation
procedure when a municipality's liability is derived
wholly from a named defendant's liability, and if this
were such a case, then the Court would grant the motion.
See, e.g., Vathekan v. Prince George's
County, 154 F.3d 173, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1998) (reversing
and remanding to district court on other grounds). See
also Brissett v. Paul, No. 97-6898, at *15-16
(4th Cir. Apr. 6, 1998) (unpublished) (upholding bifurcation
of discovery on claim against municipality from discovery on
claim against individual police officer); 8A Wright, Miller,
Kane, Marcus, & Steinman, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2040 (3d ed.) (" Ever since the
days of the former equity bill for discovery, there has been
applied to discovery, 'the principle of judicial
parsimony,' by which, when one issue may be determinative
of a case, the court has discretion to stay discovery on
other issues until the critical issue has been decided."
case, however, is not such a case. The allegations
specifically attributable to Amador's conduct are only
part of the case against BPD and Batts. The complaint
includes many allegations of wrongful conduct by a
considerable number of officers or officials of the BPD,
other than the allegations against Amador. For example,
Crystal alleges that the day after two police officers were
criminally charged because of Crystal's report about
their misconduct to the Baltimore City State's
Attorney's Office, a detective from another division
threatened Crystal about his report. (Compl. ¶ 27.) In
addition, many of the kinds of threatening comments made by
Amador to Crystal were made by other officers. ( Id.
¶ 44.) Also, he was informed that all supervisors of
Internal Affairs, to whom Crystal had made reports of
harassment and intimidation, " were instructed by the
Chief of Internal Affairs that they were not to talk to
Plaintiff any further." ( Id. ¶ ¶ 40,
41.) Moreover, another official in BPD refused to approve
overtime for Crystal. ( Id. ¶ 55.) These are
just a few of the allegations that do not involve conduct by
Amador, but nevertheless plausibly demonstrate consistent,
department-wide maltreatment of Crystal.
if the claim against Amador were decided in Amador's
favor, then a substantial part of the case would remain
unresolved. Bifurcation would only succeed in drawing out the
case instead of efficiently disposing of it. The result would
be duplication of discovery effort and unwise use of judicial
resources, not to mention increasing the amount of time and
money invested by the parties.
those reasons, the Court concludes Defendants' motion to
bifurcate is without merit and, ...