Menchaca-Estrada v. Synchrony Bank
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER granting 15 Motion to Stay Pending Ruling By the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. All proceedings in this case are stayed pending a ruling in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, Case No. 15-1211. The Initial Pretrial Conference set for December 13, 2017, before Magistrate Judge Furse is VACATED. Signed by Judge Dale A. Kimball on 10/30/2017. (eat)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH
Case No. 2:17CV831DAK
Judge Dale A. Kimball
This matter is before the court on Defendant Synchrony Bank’s Motion to Stay
Proceedings Pending Ruling By the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion is fully briefed
and neither party has requested oral argument on the motion. The court also finds that oral
argument would not significantly aid in the determination of the motion. Accordingly, the court
enters the following order based on the memoranda submitted by the parties and the law and facts
relevant to the motion.
Plaintiff in this action seeks to recover $500 to $1500 per call under the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) on the basis that Synchrony allegedly placed
calls to Plaintiff’s cell phone using an “automatic telephone dialing system” without Plaintiff’s
consent. On July 10, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued an order
interpreting the term “automatic telephone dialing system” under the TCPA. Under the Hobbs
Act, 47 U.S.C. § 402, the FCC’s ruling is binding on all federal district courts nationwide and
can only be overturned by a federal court of appeals. A consolidated appeal in ACA International
v. Federal Communications Commission, Case No. 15-1211 is currently pending before the D.C.
Circuit with respect to the scope of the statutory definition of an “automatic telephone dialing
system. The consolidated appeal before the D.C. Circuit had oral argument on October 19, 2016.
Because it has been under advisement for over a year, a ruling is expected soon.
Defendant asks this court to stay the present action until the D.C. Circuit rules on
the pending consolidated appeal regarding the definition of “automatic telephone dialing
system.” This court has discretion as to whether it will stay the current action. Landis v. North
Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936). “[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the
power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the cases on its docket with economy
of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Id. at 255. “How this can best be
done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an
even balance.” Id. A court usually considers factors such as “(1) whether granting a stay would
likely simplify the issues before the court; (2) the stage of the litigation; and (3) a balancing of
prejudice to the parties.” Lifetime Prod. Inc. v. Russell Brands, LLC, No. 1:12cv26DN, 2013
WL 5408458, at *2 (D. Utah Sept. 25, 2013).
Defendant argues that the D.C. Circuit’s ruling will be binding on all district
courts nationwide and it may extinguish or significantly curtail Plaintiff’s claims. At the very
least, Defendant claims that the D.C. Circuit ruling will dictate the scope of the issues and
discovery needed in this case. Defendants cite to dozens of courts nationwide that have stayed
similar TCPA suits pending the D.C. Circuit’s ruling in the consolidated appeal.
Plaintiff, however, argues that the delay will cause substantial prejudice his ability
to adjudicate his case properly, especially if an appeal is taken to the United States Supreme
Court. However, the consolidated appeal has been under advisement for over a year and
Defendant is not seeking an appeal pending a decision by the Supreme Court. The court agrees
with the courts that have concluded that a stay will “conserve the resources of the parties and the
court while avoiding the wasted effort that may be involved in proceeding under an uncertain
legal framework.” See, e.g., Maksymowski v. Navient Sols., Inc., No. 15-14368, 2017 WL
486941, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 12, 2017). Given that a ruling is likely imminent, the court finds
no appreciable prejudice to Plaintiff. Moreover, if the D.C. Circuit does not issue a decision
within nine months, Plaintiff can move to lift the stay.
Based on the above reasoning, Defendant’s Motion to Stay is GRANTED. All
proceedings in this case are stayed pending a ruling in ACA International v. Federal
Communications Commission, Case No. 15-1211. The Initial Pretrial Conference set for
December 13, 2017, before Magistrate Judge Furse is vacated.
DATED this 30th day of October, 2013.
BY THE COURT:
DALE A. KIMBALL
United States District Judge
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