United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY
before the Court is Defendant 21st Mortgage
("Defendant") 's motion to stay proceedings
 in the case subjudice pending the United States
Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit's
decision in ACA International v. Federal Communications
Commission, Case No. 15-1211 ("ACA").
Plaintiff Garrick Oatis ("Plaintiff) has filed a
response in opposition, and Defendant has filed a reply. Upon
due consideration, the Court finds that the motion should be
denied without prejudice.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the "TCPA")
makes it unlawful to call a person's cellular telephone
"using any automatic telephone dialing system or an
artificial or prerecorded voice, " unless the person has
given prior consent or the call is made for emergency
purposes. 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) (emphasis
added). A person or entity who has received a prohibited
telephone call may bring a private action to enjoin further
violations and to recover "for actual monetary loss from
such a violation, or to receive up to $500 in damages for
each such violation . . .." 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(3).
The TCPA also allows a plaintiff to recover treble damages
where a defendant is found to have "willfully or
knowingly" violated the TCPA. Id. On July 10,
2015, the Federal Communications Commission (the
"FCC") issued an Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and
Order addressing, inter alia, the definition of
"automatic telephone dialing system" under the TCP
A. In re Rules & Regs. Implementing the TCP A of
1991, 30 F.C.C.R. 7961 (FCC July 10, 2015). On July 10,
2015, ACA International filed an appeal of the FCC's
Order (ACA), requesting that the D.C. Circuit Court
vacate the FCC's definition of "capacity"
pertaining to automatic dialing telephone systems pursuant to
that court's authority under the Hobbes Act, 28 U.S.C.
§§ 2341 et seq.
case sub judice, Plaintiff asserts a TCP A claim
that Defendant called Plaintiffs cellular phone
"approximately eighty (80) times ... in an attempt to
collect a debt" despite that "Plaintiff does not
currently have any account or business dealings with
[Defendant]." Pl.'s Compl.  ¶¶ 11-12,
15. Plaintiff alleges that "some or all of the calls
[Defendant] made to Plaintiffs cellular telephone number were
made using an 'automatic telephone dialing system'. .
. or an artificial or prerecorded voice." Id.
¶¶ 12, 17, 22 (emphasis added). As a result,
Plaintiff claims he has suffered "invasion of privacy
and the intrusion upon his right of seclusion."
Id. ¶ 26.
present motion to stay, Defendant requests that this Court
stay the case sub judice pending the outcome of
ACA, which it claims will directly impact Plaintiffs
claims and will be binding on this Court, as ACA
involves the scope and definition of an "automatic
telephone dialing system" under the TCPA and the methods
for revocation of consent under the TCP A. Defendant
maintains that the benefits of a stay would outweigh the
minimal burdens and that a stay would not pose any prejudice
to Plaintiff. Finally, Defendant maintains that a decision in
ACA would either resolve or significantly narrow the
scope of this matter and that the early stage of the case
sub judice weighs in favor of a stay.
opposes Defendant's motion to stay in a lengthy
thirteen-page response, arguing, inter alia, that
his claim that Defendant used a prerecorded voice to contact
Plaintiff is an independent violation of the TCPA that is not
reliant on the use of an automatic telephone dialing system
and therefore that ACA may have no bearing on the
case sub judice. Plaintiff further argues that the
FCC's July 10, 2015 Order "clarifying certain
definitions and provisions of the [TCPA]" is
"supported by previous FCC orders, years of legal
precedent, and is entitled to significant deference."
Pl.'s Resp. Opp'nto Def.'s Mot. Stay  at 1-2.
Therefore, Plaintiff maintains that a stay pending the
decision of ACA is unnecessary. Plaintiff also
points out that a decision in ACA by the D.C.
Circuit Court of Appeals will likely result in a petition for
writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme
Court which could result in further delay to the adjudication
of the case sub judice.
"[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. How this can best be
done calls for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh
competing interests and maintain an even balance."
Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55, 57 S.Ct.
163, 81 L.Ed. 153 (1936). "The District Court has broad
discretion to stay proceedings as an incident to its power to
control its own docket, " and "[t]he proponent of a
stay bears the burden of establishing its need."
Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706, 117 S.Ct. 1636,
137 L.Ed.2d 945 (1997) (internal citation omitted); see
also Wedgeworth v. Fibreboard Corp., 706 F.2d 541, 545
(5th Cir. 1983).
weighing the competing interests of this case, the Court
finds that Defendant has not met its burden of establishing
the need for a stay at this early juncture of the litigation,
particularly given that Defendant has not demonstrated to
this Court that the issues in ACA relating to an
automatic telephone dialing system will likely be dispositive
of this case. Plaintiff has pled a claim that Defendant
repeatedly called his cellular telephone using an
"artificial or prerecorded voice" independent of
his claim that Defendant "us[ed] an 'automatic
telephone dialing system.' " See Pl.'s
Compl. [I] ¶ 12. Because this case is in its infancy,
the Court finds that a stay on this basis would be premature.
Furthermore, as a practical matter, the United States Court
of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit heard oral
argument in ACA on October 19, 2016. See ACA
Int'l v. FCC, et al, United States Court of Appeals
for District of Columbia Circuit, Court of Appeals Docket #:
15-1211. Therefore, a decision may be reached in that case
without the need for a stay in this case.
Defendant's motion to stay proceedings  is not well
taken at this ...