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Griffin v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

August 23, 2017

BEATRICE GRIFFIN PLAINTIFF
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC DEFENDANT

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY

          F. KEITH BALL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Defendant Nationstar Mortgage, LLC's (“Nationstar”) Motion to Stay Proceedings [6]. Nationstar seeks a stay of the case pending a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in ACA International v. FCC, et al., Case No. 15-1211. For the reasons described herein, the Court finds that the motion should be denied.

         Background

         Griffin filed her complaint on February 14, 2017, alleging that Defendant violated 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). [1]. Griffin alleges that Nationstar engaged in a pattern of conduct beginning in August 2015 and continuing through February 2017 wherein Nationstar placed upwards of 400 automated phone calls to her cellular telephone. Id. at 3-8. Griffin alleges that:

Upon information and belief, some or all of the calls the Defendant made to Plaintiff's cellular telephone number were made using an “automatic telephone dialing system” which has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator (including but not limited to a predictive dialer) or an artificial or prerecorded voice; and to dial such numbers as specified by 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1). . . .

Id. at 4. Griffin alleges that in or about September 2015, she verbally revoked any consent Nationstar believed it might have had to call her cellular telephone number. Id. at 4-5. She alleges that she continued to receive calls, and on at least four different occasions verbally requested that Nationstar stop calling her. Id. at 5-6. Griffin further alleges that “each of the calls at issue were placed by the Defendant using a ‘prerecorded voice, ” as specified by the TCPA, 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(A).” Id. at 4.

         Nationstar moves to stay the case on the basis that the D.C. Circuit's pending ruling in ACA International v. FCC, et al, “could be dispositive of many if not all of . . . Griffin's claims in this case.” [7] at 1. Nationstar argues that ACA International will decide both the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (“ATDS”) and whether the TCPA permits a plaintiff to verbally revoke consent to receive phone calls. Id. Nationstar argues that those issues are at the center of this lawsuit. Id. at 1-3. Because ACA International would constitute controlling law in this case, Nationstar moves to stay the case pending the D.C. Circuit's decision. Id. Nationstar cites numerous other district court orders staying similar litigation pending a ruling in ACA International. Id. at 4.

         Griffin responds, citing a myriad of Eleventh Circuit cases, [1] that a stay is unwarranted. [8]. She argues that it is unclear whether ACA International will even address the definition of an ATDS. She further contends that even if the case does address that definition, her allegation that Nationstar used a prerecorded voice when placing the phone calls is an independent violation of the TCPA that would be unaffected by the outcome of ACA International. Id. at 5-10. She further contends that the decision in ACA International “is unlikely to impact, simplify or streamline the case.” Id. at 5. She too cites numerous other district court orders declining to stay litigation pending a ruling in ACA International. Id. at 11-14.

         Legal Standard

         "[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." Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). “Generally, the power to stay a pending matter derives from a trial court's wide discretion to control the course of litigation.” United States v. $9, 041, 598.68, 163 F.3d 238, 251 (5th Cir. 1998).

         Discussion

         The Court is not persuaded that a stay is warranted in this case. Nationstar's motion is premised on the idea that ACA International will have a substantial bearing on the course of the present litigation. If Griffin's allegations were limited solely to Nationstar's alleged use of an ATDS in making the calls to Griffin, Nationstar's argument would be highly persuasive, and the Court would be inclined to grant a stay. However, in addition to alleging that the phone calls at issue were made using an ATDS, Griffin further alleges that the phone calls were made using a prerecorded voice. This is significant, since this issue is not presented in ACA International and will not be affected by the outcome of that case.

         Griffin's claims are filed pursuant to Section 227 of ...


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