Williams et al v. Santander Consumer USA Inc
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER - Because the Courts decision to exercise jurisdiction over Santander with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs claims does not constitute clear error or manifest injustice, and because Santander has not presented evidence of an intervening change in controlling law or the availability of new evidence, the Court DENIES Santanders motion for reconsideration. Additionally, the Court DENIES Santanders request for leave to file an interlocutory appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 2/7/2017. (KEK)
2017 Feb-07 PM 04:03
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
NORMA WILLIAMS, et al.,
SANTANDER CONSUMER USA,
Case No.: 2:15-cv-919-MHH
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The plaintiffs in this action allege that the defendant, Santander Consumer
USA (Santander), violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by
using an automatic telephone dialing system to call the plaintiffs’ cell phones
without the plaintiffs’ prior express consent. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 31–51). The Court
previously denied Santander’s motion to dismiss the action for lack of personal
jurisdiction with respect to the claims of eight plaintiffs who reside in and received
phone calls from Santander in Tennessee. (Doc. 44). Santander now asks the
Court to reconsider its previous order regarding personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 56).
Alternatively, Santander asks the Court to certify the question of personal
jurisdiction with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs for immediate appeal pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). (Doc. 56). This opinion addresses Santander’s motion for
reconsideration and alternative request for an interlocutory appeal.
STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION
“In the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources,
reconsideration of an order is an extraordinary remedy and is employed sparingly.”
Rueter v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 440 F. Supp. 2d 1256, 1267
(N.D. Ala. 2006). “Indeed, as a general rule, ‘[a] motion to reconsider is only
available when a party presents the court with evidence of an intervening change in
controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct clear error
or manifest injustice.’” Id. at 1268 (quoting Summit Med. Ctr. of Ala., Inc. v. Riley,
284 F. Supp. 2d 1350, 1355 (M.D. Ala. 2003)) (alteration provided by Rueter). “A
motion for reconsideration should not be used to present authorities available at the
time of the first decision or to reiterate arguments previously made.” Z.K. Marine,
Inc. v. Archigetis, 808 F. Supp. 1561, 1563 (S.D. Fla. 1992).
Motion for reconsideration
In its opinion denying Santander’s motion to dismiss the Tennessee
plaintiffs’ claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court found that “[t]here is
simply no constitutional harm in compelling Santander to defend TCPA claims of
plaintiffs from both Alabama and Tennessee in this forum when Santander created
contacts with Alabama and designed a means of debt collection that makes
litigation of all of these claims in Alabama both fair and efficient.” (Doc. 44,
p. 14). The Court explained that, because Santander’s practice of attempting to
collect debt by calling borrowers’ cell phones potentially reaches into every state,
the company knows or reasonably should know that it may be compelled to litigate
in any state. (Doc. 44, p. 12).
In its motion for reconsideration, Santander does not contend that new
evidence has become available, nor does the company present evidence of an
intervening change in controlling law. Rather, Santander reiterates the arguments
it raised in its motion to dismiss.1 Specifically, Santander argues that because the
Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims do not arise from “any of [Santander’s] Alabama
activities,” the Court is without jurisdiction over Santander with respect to the
Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims. (Doc. 56, p. 4).
As the Court has explained, the Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims arise from
Santander’s practice of calling borrowers’ cell phones to collect debt. Because of
the mobile nature of cell phones, Santander cannot predict where a borrower will
Santander also argues that the Court’s ruling regarding personal jurisdiction is inconsistent with
a previous order that the Court entered in Carmen Woods, et al. v. Santander Consumer USA,
Inc., No. 2:14-cv-02104-MHH, a case with which the instant action is consolidated. (Doc. 56, p.
12). The Court’s ruling in Woods depended, in part, on the specific circumstances of that case,
which included state-law class claims not present here. (See No. 2:14-cv-02104, Doc. 53, p. 5).
Furthermore, the Court is not bound by its prior decisions. See McGinley v. Houston, 361 F.3d
1328, 1331 (11th Cir. 2004). The Court gave limited consideration to Santander’s personal
jurisdiction arguments in Woods because the Court found that the state-law claims provided a
sound basis for transfer of venue.
be located when he or she receives a call from Santander on his or her cell phone.
Thus, each time Santander calls a borrower’s cell phone, the company knows or
reasonably should know that it may have to litigate a TCPA claim in any state as a
result of that call. The Court’s exercise of jurisdiction over Santander with respect
to the Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims, in conjunction with its exercise of jurisdiction
over the Alabama plaintiffs’ claims, is therefore consistent with the constitutional
principles that underlie the law of personal jurisdiction.
See Daimler AG v.
Bauman, 134 S. Ct. 746, 754 (2014) (quoting Int’l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash.,
Office of Unemployment Comp. and Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945))
(requiring courts to consider “traditional notions of fair play and substantial
justice” when deciding whether to exercise personal jurisdiction).
The Court’s denial of Santander’s motion to dismiss the action for lack of
personal jurisdiction with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs does not constitute
clear error or manifest injustice. Accordingly, the Court denies Santander’s motion
to reconsider whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over the company with
respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims.
Request to file interlocutory appeal
Alternatively, Santander asks the Court for leave under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b)
to file a permissive interlocutory appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. (See Doc. 56).
Section 1292(b) provides:
When a district judge, in making in a civil action an order not
otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the opinion that
such order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is
substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate
appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate
termination of the litigation, he shall so state in writing in such order.
28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Section 1292(b) was prompted by a proposal to Congress
from the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts.
See McFarlin v.
Conseco Servs., LLC, 381 F.3d 1251, 1256 (11th Cir. 2004). The proposal was
based, in part, on a report authored by a committee of judges appointed by the
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court to study the matter of
Emphasizing the “limited scope” of the proposed
remedy, the report stated that “appeal from interlocutory orders . . . should be used
only in exceptional cases where a decision of the appeal may avoid protracted and
expensive litigation, as in antitrust and similar protracted cases . . . .” Id. at 1256
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The report further stated that “[i]t
is not thought . . . that mere question as to the correctness of the ruling would
prompt the granting of the certificate.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks
Here, even if the Eleventh Circuit were to determine that this Court lacks
personal jurisdiction over Santander with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs’
claims, such a determination would not, as § 1292(b) requires, “serve to avoid a
trial or otherwise shorten the litigation.” McFarlin, 381 F.3d at 1259. Upon such a
ruling, this Court would transfer the Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims to an appropriate
forum in Tennessee, and the litigation as to those plaintiffs would continue there.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1631 (“Whenever [a district court] finds that there is a want of
jurisdiction, the court shall, if it is in the interest of justice, transfer [an] action to
any other . . . court in which the action . . . could have been brought at the time it
was filed.”). Litigation in this venue would continue as to the Alabama plaintiffs.
Thus, immediate review of the Court’s ruling on jurisdiction would not materially
advance the ultimate termination of this litigation, and the Court declines to certify
its ruling for interlocutory appeal.
Because the Court’s decision to exercise jurisdiction over Santander with
respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs’ claims does not constitute clear error or
manifest injustice, and because Santander has not presented evidence of an
intervening change in controlling law or the availability of new evidence, the Court
DENIES Santander’s motion for reconsideration.
Additionally, the Court
DENIES Santander’s request for leave to file an interlocutory appeal to the
Eleventh Circuit. The Court asks the Clerk to please TERM Doc. 56.
DONE and ORDERED this February 7, 2017.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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