United States District Court, D. Maryland
JERRY W. MULLINS, Plaintiff,
SUBURBAN HOSPITAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.
Xinis United States District Judge.
is a motion to stay proceedings filed by Plaintiff Jerry W.
Mullins. ECF No. 60. The issues have been fully briefed and a
telephonic hearing was held on Monday, July 10, 2017. For the
reasons stated below, the motion is denied.
April 14, 2016, Plaintiff Jerry Mullins
(“Plaintiff”) filed two Complaints against a cast
of defendants which included doctors, medical practices,
health care systems, and hospitals. See ECF No. 5.
He alleged that the defendants committed medical malpractice
by failing to properly treat injuries that Plaintiff
sustained to his hand on April 15, 2014. He also alleged that
the defendants violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and
Labor Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd et seq.
(“EMTALA”), when they refused to transfer him
from Suburban Hospital in Bethesda to the Curtis National
Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore
for specialized treatment.
Complaints were consolidated, and defendants then filed six
separate motions to dismiss. The Court granted the motions
with respect to Plaintiff's medical malpractice claims
because he failed to first file them in Health Claims court
pursuant to Maryland's Health Care Malpractice Claims Act
(“HCMCA”) requirements. See Mullins v.
Suburban Hosp. Healthcare Sys., Inc., No. PX 16-1113,
2017 WL 480755 (D. Md. Feb. 6, 2017). The only claim that
survived dismissal was Plaintiff's EMTALA claim against
Defendant MedStar Union Memorial Hospital (“Union
Memorial Hospital). See Id. at *5. On June 23, 2017,
Plaintiff filed a motion to stay proceedings as to this
remaining claim. See ECF No. 60.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court has inherent, discretionary power to stay a case in
order to control its own docket. Landis v. North American
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). Whether a stay should be
ordered requires consideration of the economy of time and
effort for the Court, counsel, and litigants, and the
competing interests must be weighed and kept in proper
balance. Id. at 254-55. A party seeking a stay must
demonstrate a pressing need for one, id. at 255, and
that the need for a stay outweighs any possible harm to the
nonmovant. Mike's Train House v. Broadway Ltd.,
Civ. JKB-09-2657, 2011 WL 836673, at *1 (D. Md. Mar. 3,
2011). See also In re Sacramento Mun. Utility Dist.,
395 F. App'x 684, 687-88 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (unpublished).
Three factors should be considered in weighing a motion to
stay: “(1) the interests of judicial economy; (2)
hardship and equity to the moving party if the action is not
stayed; and (3) potential prejudice to the non-moving
party.” Davis v. Biomet Orthopedics, LLC, No.
JKB-12-3738, 2013 WL 682906 (D. Md. Feb. 22, 2013) (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted).
Court dismissed Plaintiff's medical malpractice claims
because he failed to first file his complaint with the
Director of the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute
Resolution Office as the HCMCA requires. The surviving EMTALA
claim against Union Memorial Hospital proceeded to discovery.
In the meantime, Plaintiff has filed his medical malpractice
claims in Health Claims court, and requests a stay in this
case so that he may eventually rejoin his medical malpractice
claims with his EMTALA claim to avoid duplicative discovery.
proposal is unworkable. His medical malpractice claims are
currently being evaluated by Maryland's Health Care
Alternative Dispute Resolution Office and so have not yet
reached this Court. If they do, the defendants in that case
may file dispositive motions which will have to be decided
before discovery is allowed to proceed. Thus, it may take
several months for Plaintiff's medical malpractice case
reaches the discovery phase, if ever. By contrast, the case
currently before this Court has been pending for over a year,
pre-answer motions to dismiss were filed and decided, and the
parties are currently in the thick of discovery. Accordingly,
a stay would not advance the Court's interest in judicial
this case will also prejudice Union Memorial Hospital.
Plaintiff's lawsuit against Union Memorial Hospital stems
only from the Hospital's refusal to accept Suburban
Hospital's transfer request, a decision which may violate
EMTALA's “reverse-dumping” provision but may
not support a separate claim for medical malpractice. See
Mullins, 2017 WL 480755, at *5 (explaining the
distinction between an EMTALA claim and a medical malpractice
claim). Thus, if Plaintiff's EMTALA claim is resolved in
Union Memorial Hospital's favor, the Hospital may be
completely dismissed from the case. It would be unfair for
the Court to force Union Memorial Hospital to remain in this
case as a defendant while Plaintiff litigates his medical
malpractice claims against Suburban Hospital and the doctors
who treated him.
Court is mindful that duplicative discovery arising from the
denial of a stay could prejudice Plaintiff who is pro
se. Both parties recognized as much at the July 10th
telephonic hearing and proposed to extend current discovery
deadlines to accommodate fact witness depositions common to
both claims. The Court agrees that this course fairly
balances the parties' concerns and will entertain such a
Plaintiff's motion is denied. A ...