United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division
WILLIAMS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE CHIEF JUDGE.
matter is before the Court pursuant to defendant Synchrony
Bank's motion (Doc. 10), to stay this lawsuit pending the
outcome of ACA International v. Federal Communications
Commission, Case No. 15-1211 (“ACA
International”). Plaintiff filed non-timely
resistance on July 10, 2017 (Doc. 12) pursuant to Court
Order. (Doc 11). For the reasons that follow, the Court
grants defendant's motion to stay proceedings pending the
D.C. Circuits' decision in ACA International.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
March 28, 2017, plaintiff filed suit against defendant
alleging violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
(“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq.
(Doc. 2). Plaintiff alleges that defendant used an automatic
telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call plaintiff's cell
phone many times without plaintiff's consent in violation
of the TCPA. (Id.). On May 11, 2017, defendant filed
an answer. (Doc. 9). On June 12, 2017, defendant filed a
motion to stay all proceedings in this case pending decision
of the D.C. Circuit in the consolidated appeal ACA
passed the TCPA in 1991, and delegated definitions regarding
the do not call rules to the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC). 47 U.S.C. § 227(c)(3). The TCPA
prohibits any ATDS from calling wireless phones and leaving
prerecorded messages without express consent of the called
party. 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A). On July 10, 2015, the
FCC further defined an ATDS as “dialing equipment
generally has the capacity to store or produce, and dial
random or sequential numbers [and thus meets the TCPA's
definition of “autodialer”] even if it is not
presently used for that purpose, including when the caller is
calling a set list of consumers”. See In the Matter
of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act of 1991, 30 FCC Rcd 7961, 10 (July 10,
2015). The July 2015 FCC ruling has prompted significant TCPA
litigation, while affected corporations claim the FCC has
exceeded its regulatory authority. John R. Chiles, Zachary
Miller, & Rachel R. Friedman, TCPA Litigation UpDated:
Enduring Questions after the FCC's 2015 TCPA Declaratory
Ruling, 72 Bus. Law. 577 (Spring 2017).
July 2015 FCC ruling was challenged by consolidated appeal to
the D.C. Circuit in ACA International. Pursuant to
the Hobbs Act, the D.C. Circuit can reverse the FCC ruling
and remand the case to the FCC to carry out the judgment of
the Court, subject to review by the Supreme Court upon writ
of certiorari. 47 U.S.C. § 402. At the present time,
pending the decision of the D.C. Circuit, the July 2015 FCC
ruling is the law.
Court has broad discretion to stay proceedings when
appropriate to control its docket as far as optimal use of
judicial resources while weighing competing interests.
Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936):
Sierra Club v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 446
F.3d 808, 816 (8th Cir. 2006). In the event of a pending
decision that will be controlling in the instant case,
federal courts have considered issuing a stay pending another
court's decision. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla.
v. S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist., 559 F.3d 1191, 1198 (11th
Cir. 2009). In deciding the merits of a motion to stay
proceedings, the Court weighs the following factors: (1)
whether a stay will be the most efficient use of judicial
resources by preventing duplication of effort; (2) whether
the pending decision could simplify and narrow the issues in
the case; and (3) whether the Court will be able to benefit
from the pending decision. Middleton, Inc. v. Minnesota
Mining and Mfg. Co., 2004 WL 1968669, at 3 (S.D. Iowa
Aug. 24, 2004).
the ACA International appeal, the Federal Courts have ruled
multiple times whether to stay lawsuits similar to the
instant case, pending the D.C. circuit decision. Factors
weighed in considering a stay of proceeding include whether:
the definition of an ATDS is a threshold issue for liability
and would determine the scope of discovery; (2) a stay would
conserve judicial resources, clarify the law, and aid the
court in making a decision on the merits; (3) the plaintiff
would not be prejudiced by a stay; (4) a stay would reduce
the burden of litigation on the parties; (5) the ACA
International appeal was not likely to remain pending for
long, considering that briefing is complete and oral argument
scheduled; and (6) absent a stay, the defendant would suffer
hardship in conducting discovery and preparing for trial.
Frable v. Synchrony Bank, 2016 WL 6123248, at *4 (D.
Minn. Oct. 17, 2016); See, e.g., Coatney v. Synchrony
Bank, No. 6:16-cv-389-Orl-22TBS, 2016 WL 4506315, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Aug. 2, 2016); Rose v. Wells Fargo Advisors,
LLC, No. 1:16-CV-562- CAP, 2016 WL 3369283, at *2
(N.D.Ga. June 14, 2016).