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Miller v. Time Warner Cable Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 5, 2016

VANESSA MILLER
v.
TIME WARNER CABLE, INC.

         (IN CHAMBERS) - PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO STAY CASE PENDING DECISION BY JPML ON MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE AND TRANSFER (Dkt. 47, filed July 11, 2016)

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

          CHRISTINA A. SNYDER Judge

         The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of August 8, 2016, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.

         I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

         On February 24, 2016, plaintiff Vanessa Miller initiated this putative class action against defendant Time Warner Cable, Inc. (“TWC”). Dkt. 1. Plaintiff asserts a single claim against TWC for violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C. § 227. Id. This action is one of eleven actions filed in recent months against TWC for violations of the TCPA (“the TWC Actions”). On June 14, 2016, the plaintiffs in one of the other TWC Actions, Fontes v. Time Warner Cable, Case No. 2:14-cv-02060-CAS-CW, filed a motion with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) seeking to consolidate and transfer all of the TWC Actions, including the instant action, to this district.

         On June 27, 2016, defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss plaintiff’s complaint. Dkt. 40. On July 5, 2016, plaintiff filed an opposition, Dkt. 44, and on July 11, 2016, defendant filed a reply, Dkt. 46. On July 11, plaintiff filed a motion to stay this case pending a decision by the JPML on the motion to consolidate and transfer the TWC Actions to this district. Dkt. 47. Thereafter, on July 18, 2016, defendant filed an opposition, Dkt. 51, and on July 25, 2016, plaintiff filed a reply, Dkt. 52. Having considered the parties’ arguments, the Court finds that it is appropriate to stay this case pending a decision from the JPML

         II. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff requests that the Court stay this case pending a decision by the JPML on the motion to consolidate and transfer the TWC Actions to this district. A district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings. See Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). “This power to stay 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.” Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997) (citations omitted). Moreover, courts routinely stay cases pending the resolution of a motion before the JPML. See, e.g., Lyman v. Asbestos Defendants, 2007 WL 2972926 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2007); Sanborn v. Asbestos Corp., 2009 WL 195922 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2009). Here, the Court sees no reason to depart from the “majority of courts [to] have concluded that it is . . . appropriate to stay preliminary pretrial proceedings while a motion to transfer and consolidate is pending with the MDL Panel.” Rivers, 980 F.Supp., at 1362. Among other things, a stay in this case will preserve judicial resources by avoiding duplicative litigation and potentially inconsistent rulings from the courts overseeing the TWC Actions.

         In its opposition, TWC does not contest that a stay will preserve judicial resources and prevent inconsistent rulings. Nor does it contend that it will suffer any hardship from a brief stay of these proceedings pending a ruling from the JPML. Instead, TWC argues that there are jurisdictional issues that the Court should decide before exercising its discretion to determine whether a stay is appropriate. Specifically, TWC contends that the Court should decide: (a) whether to compel arbitration with regard to plaintiff’s claim for TCPA damages; and (b) whether plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief pursuant to the TCPA should be dismissed as moot. “The Ninth Circuit has made clear that courts should address subject matter jurisdiction at the outset in the mine run of cases.” Mullin v. Gen. Motors LLC, 2016 WL 94235, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 7, 2016) (citing Potter v. Hughes, 546 F.3d 1051, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008)). Nonetheless, courts need not always address subject matter jurisdiction at the outset of a case. See, e.g., Potter, 546 F.3d at 1061 (noting that “where the jurisdictional issue is difficult to determine” courts may “reach other issues first”). And TWC has cited no authority which prohibits the Court from staying this case pending a decision from the JPML simply because TWC has challenged the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction. Moreover, TWC fails to explain why a transferee court will be unable to decide the jurisdictional issues presented by this case following a decision from the JPML. Accordingly, in the interests of judicial economy, and particularly given that TWC has not identified any prejudice it will suffer from a stay of these proceedings, the Court finds that it is appropriate to briefly stay these proceedings pending a decision from the JPML. See also Lyman, 2007 WL 2972926, at *3 (granting a motion to stay pending resolution of a motion to consolidate and transfer cases before the JPML “because a stay [would] likely preserve judicial resources by preventing a duplication of proceedings” and “because the plaintiffs [had] not persuasively identified any hardship resulting from such a stay”).

         The Court, therefore, GRANTS plaintiff’s motion to stay.[1]

         III. CONCLUSION

         In accordance with the foregoing, the Court finds that a stay is appropriate in these circumstances and therefore GRANTS plaintiff’s motion. It is ORDERED that this action is hereby removed from this Court’s active caseload until further application by the parties or order of this Court. The parties are directed to file joint status reports reporting on the status of the pending motion before the JPML every 120 days or upon a decision from the JPML.

         IT IS ...


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