United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
LARRY PIPPION, as Representative of the Estate of Larry Earvin, Plaintiff,
WILLIE HEDDEN, BENJAMIN BURNETT, BLAKE HAUBRICH ALEX BANTA, CAMERON WATSON, and STEVEN SNYDER, Defendants.
MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause is before the Court on the Motion to Stay (d/e 25)
filed by Defendant Willie Hedden and the Motion to Adopt
Defendant Willie Hedden's Motion to Stay Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(c) (d/e 27) filed by
Defendant Blake Haubrich, which the Court treats as a Motion
to Stay. The Motions to Stay are GRANTED. Having balanced the
interests of Plaintiff, Defendants, and the public, the Court
concludes that the interests of justice require a stay of
January 2019, Plaintiff Larry Pippion, as the Representative
of the Estate of Larry Earvin, filed suit against Defendants
Hedden, Haubrich, Benjamin Burnett, and Alex Banta (Defendant
Officers) in their individual capacities. The Defendant
Officers were employed by the Illinois Department of
Corrections as correctional staff at the Western Illinois
Correctional Center (Western) where Mr. Earvin was
incarcerated. Plaintiff also named Cameron Watson, the Warden
of Western, and Steven Snyder, the Assistant Warden of
Operations at Western, in their individual capacities.
Plaintiff is the son of Mr. Earvin, the decedent.
Complaint alleges that, on May 17, 2018, the Defendant
Officers beat and viciously attacked Mr. Earvin without just
cause or provocation. Mr. Earvin suffered severe injuries and
ultimately died from his injuries on June 26, 2018. The
coroner ruled the manner of death was homicide. Plaintiff
brings §1983 excessive force, failure to intervene, and
conspiracy claims, as well as various state law claims.
Hedden and Haubrich have moved to stay this case. Defendant
Hedden and his counsel in this case believe that the U.S.
Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI), is conducting grand jury proceedings
to determine whether criminal charges will be brought against
Hedden based on the same factual allegations alleged in the
Complaint. Hedden Mem. at 1 (d/e 26). Defendant Hedden
asserts that, absent a stay, he would have to decide whether
to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against
self-incrimination in the civil case, which could be used as
a basis for an inference against him in the civil case.
Defendant Haubrich adopts Defendant Hedden's motion and
the Constitution does not require a stay of civil proceedings
pending the outcome of criminal proceedings, a court may, in
its discretion, stay the civil litigation if the interests of
justice require a stay. See United States v. Kordel,
397 U.S. 1, 12 n.27 (1970); Jones v. City of
Indianapolis, 216 F.R.D. 440, 450-51 (S.D. Ind. 2003).
Whether to grant a stay due to parallel civil and criminal
proceedings requires balancing the interests of the
plaintiff, the defendants, and the public. Chagolla v.
City of Chicago, 529 F.Supp.2d 941, 945 (N.D. Ill.
2008). The factors for determining whether to grant a stay
include: (1) whether the civil and criminal matters involve
the same subject, (2) the posture of the criminal
proceedings, (3) the effect of a stay on the public interest,
(4) the burden that any particular aspect of the civil case
may impose on the defendant if the stay is denied, (5)
whether the government is involved in both cases, and (6) the
civil plaintiff's interest in proceeding expeditiously.
argue the Motion to Stay should be granted because the
criminal investigation and civil case are identical in nature
and, even though charges have not been filed and a criminal
proceeding is not pending, one or more Defendants is likely
to face criminal charges. They also assert that the public
has an interest in ensuring that a criminal process is not
tainted by civil litigation and that the burden on Defendants
is significant in light of their Fifth Amendment rights
counters that it is not unconstitutional to require a
defendant to choose between waiving his Fifth Amendment
privilege or asserting it and potentially having negative
inferences drawn therefrom. Pl. Resp. at 9 (d/e 31).
Plaintiff further argues that most courts decline to stay
civil proceedings when the defendant has not yet been
indicted, finding that in such cases, the alleged harm is
speculative. Finally, Plaintiff asserts the interests of the
Court and the public weigh against a stay.
Court finds a stay is warranted here. The strongest case for
staying civil proceedings is when a party is indicted for a
serious criminal offense involving the same matter. Sec.
& Exch. Comm'n v. Dresser Indus., Inc., 628 F.2d
1368, 1375-76 (D.C. Cir. 1980). While no charges have been
filed as yet against the Defendants, the purported criminal
investigation involves the same matter at issue in this civil
case, which favors a stay. See CMB Exp., LLC v.
Atteberry, No. 4:13-CV-04051-SLD-JEH, 2014 WL 4099721,
at *3 (C.D. Ill. Aug. 20, 2014) (finding the subject matter
overlap between the civil issue and the potential criminal
charges weighed in favor of a stay despite no indictments
having been issued but concluding that a stay was ultimately
not warranted based on other factors). Moreover, the
potential charges here are serious as the case involves a
death which was ruled a homicide by the coroner.
addition, without a stay, Defendants would have to choose
between invoking the Fifth Amendment in the civil case and
risking an adverse inference. See Baxter v.
Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 318 (1976) (“[T]he Fifth
Amendment does not forbid adverse inferences against parties
to civil actions when they refuse to testify in response to
probative evidence offered against them.”). Although it
is not unconstitutional to force Defendants to make this
choice, the risk to Defendants' Fifth Amendment rights in
this case is severe, given the nature of the potential
charges and the factual overlap between the civil case and
the criminal investigation.
courts have found the burden on a defendant's Fifth
Amendment right is speculative when no indictment has been
filed. See, e.g. Atteberry, 2014 WL
4099721, at *4 (“Before a criminal case has actually
commenced against a defendant, the potential burden on his or
her Fifth Amendment rights is more speculative.”);
United States ex rel. Shank v. Lewis Enters., Inc.,
No. 04-cv-4105-JPG, 2006 WL 1064072, at *4 (S.D. Ill. Apr.
21, 2006) (finding the burden-on-the-defendant factor only
slightly favored a stay where no indictment had yet been
filed). However, an indictment against one or more of the
Defendant Officers appears probable-given the coroner's
homicide conclusion-and the potential burden on
Defendants' Fifth Amendment rights is severe, given the
nature of the case. Cf. Wehling v. Columbia Broad.
Sys., 608 F.2d 1084, 1089 (5th Cir. 1979), reh'g
denied 611 F.2d 1026 (1980) (noting a stay on discovery
was proper to prevent a party exercising a privilege from
unnecessary adverse consequences); Shank, 2006 WL
1064072, at *4 (finding the burden on the defendant only
slightly favored a stay, noting that an indictment against
the defendants was not certain). The Court finds any
unnecessary burden on Plaintiff can be avoided by limiting
the stay of the civil proceedings for a period of three
months or until indictments have been issued, after which the
Court will reevaluate the necessity of a stay. See
Chagolla, 529 F.Supp.2d at 948 (holding a stay of four
months was proper rather than an indefinite stay of the civil
public interest also weighs in favor of granting a stay. The
public has an interest in both the prompt disposition of
civil litigation and in ensuring criminal investigations
proceed untainted by civil litigation. See id. at
947 (citing the impact of the Civil Justice Reform Act of
1990 in establishing the public interest in prompt civil
litigation); Jones, 216 F.R.D. at 452 (“The
public also has an important interest in a potential,
untainted criminal prosecution . . . .”). Here, due to
the seriousness of the potential charges against the
Defendant Officers and the gravity of the ongoing
investigation, the public interest in an untainted criminal
investigation outweighs the public's interest in the
prompt resolution of the civil litigation. See Salcedo v.
City of Chicago, No. 09-cv-05354, 2010 WL 2721864, at *3
(N.D. Ill. July 8, 2010) (granting ...