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Medina v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

March 13, 2017

JUAN MEDINA, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC's Motion to Stay [17].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 17, 2016, Plaintiff Juan Medina (“Medina”) filed this action against Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC (“Nationstar”) for willful violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq. ([1]). Medina's Complaint alleges that Nationstar used an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) or prerecorded or artificial voice technology to call Medina approximately two-hundred (200) times, in an attempt to collect a debt. (Id. ¶¶ 12, 17, 26, 28, 38). Medina's Complaint alleges that all of these calls were made without his “express consent, ” and that the calls continued after he “expressly revoked any consent” and demanded “to have his number removed from [Nationstar's] system.” (Id. ¶¶ 20-22). Medina seeks a jury trial and judgment against Nationstar for violation of the TCPA for repeatedly placing non-emergency telephone calls to Medina's cellular telephone using an automatic telephone dialing system or prerecorded or artificial voice technology without Medina's prior express consent. (Id. ¶¶ 38-39).

         On July 29, 2016, Nationstar filed its Answer [9]. On September 27, 2016, the parties filed a Joint Preliminary Report and Discovery Plan [12], which the Court approved [15] and set December 27, 2016, as the close of discovery.[1] On September 29, 2016, Nationstar moved to stay this case. Nationstar contends that a stay is warranted because there is a pending appeal that may “be dispositive or, at a minimum, highly instructive” of Medina's claim under the TCPA. ([17] at 1). Medina opposes any stay, arguing that (i) the appeal is not likely to result in a decision favorable to Nationstar; (ii) any favorable decision would not be dispositive of his TCPA claim; and (iii) a stay would be of indefinite duration and thus “immoderate.” (See [18]).

         On December 14, 2016, the Court ordered that the discovery period in this case be extended from December 27, 2016, through and including February 15, 2017. ([23]).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         A district court has “broad discretion to stay proceedings as incident to its power to control its own docket.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936) (“[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.”)). Determining whether a stay is justified requires an “exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance.” Id. at 254-55.

         “A variety of circumstances may justify a district court stay pending the resolution of a related case in another court. A stay sometimes is authorized simply as a means of controlling the district court's docket and of managing cases before the district court.” Ortega Trujillo v. Conover & Co. Commc'ns, 221 F.3d 1262, 1264 (11th Cir. 2000). “When a district court exercises its discretion to stay a case pending the resolution of related proceedings in another forum, the district court must limit properly the scope of the stay. A stay must not be ‘immoderate.'” Id. Stays should not merely “postpone[] the district court's inevitable consideration of the claim, ” they should “conserve judicial resources or aid in comprehensive disposition of the litigation.” Amer. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Edward D. Stone, Jr. & Assoc., 743 F.2d 1519, 1525 (11th Cir. 1984)).

         “‘When deciding whether to grant a stay, courts generally consider the following factors: (1) whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present a tactical disadvantage to the nonmovant; (2) whether a stay will simplify the issues in the case; and (3) whether discovery is complete and a trial date has been set.'” Collegiate Licensing Co. v. Am. Cas. Co. of Reading, Pa., 842 F.Supp.2d 1360, 1369 (N.D.Ga. 2012) (citation omitted). “The proponent of a stay bears the burden of establishing its need.” S.E.C. v. CRE Capital Corp., No. 1:09-CV-0114-RWS, 2009 WL 1151739, at *2 (N.D.Ga. Apr. 27, 2009) (citation and internal marks omitted).

         B. Analysis

         Nationstar filed its Motion to Stay, arguing that a stay is appropriate because the outcome in the consolidated appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in ACA Int'l v. FCC, No. 15-1211 (D.C. Cir.), “will be dispositive or, at a minimum, highly instructive” of Medina's sole TCPA claim. ([17]).[2] In ACA International, the D.C. Circuit will address, among other things, whether the FCC's treatment of the term “capacity” in defining ATDS is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law, ” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A), or whether the FCC “articulated ‘a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.'” ADX Commc'ns of Pensacola v. FCC, 794 F.3d 74, 79 (D.C. Cir. 2015).

         Medina argues that Nationstar's Motion “is built upon speculation and hypothetical regarding what the D.C. Circuit could or might do at some point in the future.” ([18] at 2 (alteration in original)). Because the D.C. Circuit's “review process will be ‘highly deferential' and the 2015 FCC Order will be presumed valid, ” Medina argues that “it is unlikely” that the D.C. Circuit's decision “will impact this case.” ([18] at 18). Medina next argues that, even if the D.C. Circuit were to change the FCC's definition of an ATDS, the impact would be minimal because Medina's Complaint alleges that Nationstar's calls used “a pre-recorded voice as well as an ATDS.” (Id. at 11); see also Vaccaro v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., No. 13-CV-174-IEG RBB, 2013 WL 3776927, at *1 (S.D. ...


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