Judge’s indeterminate stay of a cause of action not allowed without reasons on record: EST. OF LAKEESHA CLINE V. HON. JAMES G. WEDDLE (SC 4/24/2008)

EST. OF LAKEESHA CLINE V. HON. JAMES G. WEDDLE
CIVIL PROCEDURE:  Sua sponte order to stay an action
2007-SC-000742-MR.pdf
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING IN PART, REVERSING IN PART, AND REMANDING
OPINION BY MINTON; ABRAMSON NOT SITTING
ADAIR COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 4/24/2008 -80

The Supreme Court affirms in part and reverses and remands in part this wrongful death case involving a sua sponte order to stay an action.

Cline was a teenaged patient who fled a residential psychiatric treatment facility and was struck and killed in traffic. Her estate sued the facility and, after some discovery, filed a second wrongful death action with additional claims against the facility and other defendants. The estate then sought to consolidate the two actions, which motion was denied. The estate then filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to add additional parties to the second complaint; the trial court, sua sponte, order discovery halted in the second action "until completion" of the first action. Four months later the estate filed an action in the CA seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the consolidation and amendment and lift the stay order.

CA held that the estate was not entitled to the writ, stating that the stay was of limited duration. CA also noted that the estate’s procedural entanglements were self-inflicted by filing two separate actions and waiting 4 months to petition for a writ.

S. Ct. holds that CA erred in not issuing the writ to compel the stay order to be vacated b/c it was of indeterminate duration with no articulated pressing need. S.Ct. upheld the CA, however, in declining the writ on consolidation and amendment.

Digested by John E. Hamlet

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