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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Federal Court Civil Action Stayed Pending Criminal Case

A civil action instituted by LM Insurance Corporation was stayed against a defendant employer pending a Federal criminal action. The application to stay the Federal civil action was made by the employer to the court following the issuance of multiple Grand Jury Subpoenas and the execution of a Search and Seizure Warrant against the defendant employer in his home and place of business.

The documents requested to be produced in the criminal investigation included workers' compensation records, wage and labor records, bookkeeping and other financial records.The allegations in the Federal criminal action mirrored the fraud allegations in the Federal civil action.

"Here, it is clear that the issues presented in this civil action and the government's criminal investigation substantially overlap as they relate to Defendants' conduct with respect to procuring workers compensation insurance. As to the status of the criminal action, although no indictments have issued, it appears the government's investigation has moved beyond the preliminary stages as a Search and Seizure Warrant has been executed and multiple Grand Jury Subpoenas have been served. The Subpoenas issued to Defendants Viteri and Yepez require an appearance before a Grand Jury on September 3, 2015.
"Weighing Plaintiff's interest in proceeding expeditiously against any delay resulting from a stay, it is noteworthy that the civil action is at a relatively early stage with very little formal discovery having been conducted. As a result, it does not appear that Plaintiff will suffer any undue prejudice by a delay in the civil proceedings. On the other hand, the burden on Defendants to simultaneously defend the civil action and respond to a federal criminal investigation, with the potential compromise of their Fifth Amendment rights, is significant.
"Finally, although the Court and the public share an interest in the “just, speedy and inexpensive” resolutions of civil disputes (see Fed.R.Civ.P. 1), that interest does not supercede the interests of the parties to this case. On balance, consideration of these factors weighs in favor of a stay of the civil action.

LM Insurance Corporation v FAV Transportation, L.L.C., Civ Action No. 14-5424 (MAS), 2015 WL 4915677, August 18, 2015