United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY RE:
DKT. NO. 27
M. CHESNEY United States District Judge.
the Court is defendant Contract Callers, Inc.'s
(“Contract Callers”) “Motion to Stay,
” filed February 3, 2017. Plaintiff Keith Bowden
(“Bowden”) has filed opposition, to which
Contract Callers has replied. Having read and considered the
papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motions,
the Court rules as follows.
complaint, Bowden alleges that, in June 2016, Contract
Callers “called [him] at least 8 times on his cellular
telephone using an autodialer and/or an artificial or
prerecorded voice in an attempt to collect a consumer debt
that [he] did not owe” and that such calls
“continued despite several requests by [Bowden] to stop
calling him.” (See Compl. ¶ 1.) Bowden
further alleges that he “did not give [Contract
Callers] prior express consent to make these calls” and
had previously “had no contact or relationship
with” Contract Callers. (See id.)
thereon, Bowden asserts claims, on behalf of himself and a
number of subclasses, under the Telephone Consumer Protection
Act (“TCPA”), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), and California's Rosenthal Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act (“Rosenthal Act”).
instant motion, Contract Callers seeks a stay of the
above-titled action pending the outcome of ACA Int'l
v. Fed. Commc'n Comm'n, No. 15-1211 (D.C. Cir.
2015) (hereinafter ACA International), in which the
D.C. Circuit has been asked to review various aspects of an
order issued by the Federal Communications Commission
(“F.C.C.”) as to the TCPA, see In the Matter
of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 30 F.C.C. Recd. 7961
(July 10, 2015). As relevant to the instant motion, the D.C.
Circuit has been asked to decide whether the F.C.C.'s
holding that the statutory definition of an “automatic
telephone dialing system”
(“ATDS”) “is not limited to its current
configuration” but, instead, also “includes its
potential functionalities, ” see 30 F.C.C.
Recd. at 7974, constitutes an abuse of discretion or violates
callers' constitutional rights. (See Amended
Petition for Review, Def.'s Request for Judicial Notice
(“RJN”), Ex. 6, at 3).
Callers also points out that the Ninth Circuit has stayed its
review of Marks v. Crunch San Diego, 55 F.Supp.3d
1288 (S.D. Cal. 2014), a case concerning the definition of an
ATDS, pending the D.C. Circuit's decision in ACA
International (see Def.'s RJN, Ex. 1, at
7), and asks the Court to extend any stay it may grant to
“the possible decision of the Ninth Circuit in
Marks” (see Mot. at 3:27).
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). A court may “find
it is efficient for its own docket and the fairest course for
the parties to enter a stay of an action before it, pending
resolution of independent proceedings which bear upon the
case, ” even if the “issues in such
proceedings” are not “necessarily controlling of
the action before the court.” See Leyva v.
Certified Grocers of Cal., Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863-64
(9th Cir. 1979).
proponent of a stay bears the burden of establishing its
need.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708
(1997). In deciding whether to stay proceedings pending
resolution of an appeal in another action, a district court
must weigh “the competing interests which will be
affected by the granting or refusal to grant a stay, ”
including “the possible damage which may result from
the granting of a stay, the hardship or inequity which a
party may suffer in being required to go forward, and the
orderly course of justice measured in terms of the
simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions
of law which could be expected to result from a stay.”
See Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1110
(9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation and citation omitted).
Callers argues a stay is appropriate here because the D.C.
Circuit's decision in ACA International will
narrow the issues and conserve judicial resources in the
instant action, reduce Contract Callers' discovery
burdens, and pose no harm to Bowden. Bowden disagrees with
each of Contract Callers' arguments and, in addition,
contends a stay is inappropriate given Bowden's FDCPA and
Rosenthal Act claims. Although the Court recognizes that
district courts in the Ninth Circuit have disagreed as to the
propriety of a stay pending the D.C. Circuit's decision
in ACA International, see, e.g.,
Clayton v. Synchony Bank, -- F.Supp.3d --, 2016 WL
7106018, at *3-4 (E.D. Cal., Nov. 7, 2016) (collecting
cases), the Court finds, for the reasons set forth below, a
stay is, in this instance, appropriate.
the competing interests the Court must consider is whether a
stay would promote “the orderly course of justice
measured in terms of the simplifying . . . of issues, proof,
and questions of law.” See Lockyer, 398 F.3d
at 1110. In that regard, Contract Callers asserts, the
equipment it used to call Bowden has already been found by
two district courts to not be an ATDS because it lacks the
present capacity to generate or dial random or sequential
numbers (see Reply at 1:21-27 (citing Smith v.
Stellar Recovery, No. 15-cv-11717 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 7,
2017); Pozo v. Stellar Recovery, No.
8:15-cv-00929-AEP (M.D. Fla. Sept. 2, 2016))), and that,
consequently, Bowden's “only possible
argument” as to its TCPA claim is “that the
concept of capacity or ‘potential capacity' is
broadly construed” to include both present and
potential capacity (see Reply at 1:24-25), which
issue the D.C. Circuit will decide in ACA
response Bowden argues that the D.C. Circuit's decision
would not be binding on this Court, an issue the Court does
not resolve herein, as, irrespective of any precedential
effect, ACA International will at least provide
substantial guidance on a key issue in the case,
a stay in the interim would thus serve to conserve judicial
resources. See, e.g., Fontes v. Time Warner
Cable, Inc., No. CV 14-2060-CAS (CSW), 2015 WL 9272790,
at *5 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 17, 2015) (finding stay appropriate
where decision may otherwise “render moot substantial
efforts by the parties as well as many of the Court's
rulings”); see also Gustavson v. Mars, Inc.,
No. 13-CV-04537-LHK, 2014 WL 6986421, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Dec.
10, 2014) (finding stay appropriate where decision may change
“the applicable law or the landscape ...