United States District Court, D. Nebraska
EUGENE ROSALES, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, ; Plaintiff,
JOHN C. HEATH, Attorney at Law; Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on Defendant's motion to stay.
(Filing No. 14). For the following reasons, the
motion will be granted and the case will be stayed.
March 20, 2017, Plaintiff Eugene Rosales filed a complaint
against Defendant John C. Heath Attorney at Law, PLLC dba
Lexington Law Firm (“Lexington Law”) alleging
Lexington Law had repeatedly sent his cellular phone
automated text messages without his consent in violation of
the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”),
47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq. (Filing No. 1).
Rosales alleges that Defendant sent text messages using an
automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”).
Specifically he claims “Defendant acquired
Plaintiff's number, stored it in a database connected to
its telephonic or computer system, and then used its system
to send text messages to Plaintiff's cell phone
automatically and without human intervention.”
(Filing No. 1 ¶ 38 at CM/ECF p. 7).
8, 2017, Lexington Law moved to stay this case until the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in ACA
International v. Federal Communications Commission, Case
No. 15-1211 (filed July 10, 2015). Lexington Law states that
the decision in ACA International will determine the
definition of a an ATDS for the purposes of the FCRA.
Lexington Law contends this issue is fundamental to
Plaintiff's claims and may affect their viability.
The 2015 FCC Order and ACA International v. FCC
2015, the FCC issued an order outlining its interpretation of
numerous provisions of the TCPA including the definition of
an ATDS. See In the Matter of Rules and
Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection
Act of 1991, Declaratory Ruling and Order, 39 FCC Rcd.
7961 (2015). The FCC Order expanded the definition of an ATDS
to include any equipment that could potentially be modified
to generate random or sequential numbers.
parties filed petitions challenging the FCC Order in various
U.S. courts of appeals. The petitions were consolidated
before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. One issue
that will be determined in ACA International is
“[w]hether the [FCC] interpreted ATDS in a way that
unlawfully turns on the equipment's potential rather than
present abilities . . . .” See Joint Brief for
Petitioners at 4, ACA International v. FCC, No.
15-1211 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 25, 2015). Briefing concluded on
February 24, 2016 and the Court of Appeals heard oral
arguments on October 19, 2016.
on the oral arguments, Lexington Law contends that the D.C.
Circuit will likely reject the expanded definition of an
ATDS. Specifically, Lexington Law surmises the court will
reject the potential capacity component of the
FCC's ATDS definition. Lexington Law argues the ACA
International decision will affect, if not invalidate,
Plaintiff's claims and have an impact on the discovery
allowed in this case.
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 (1936). A federal district court
"has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an incident
to its power to control its own docket." Clinton v.
Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997).
evaluating a stay, a court should consider several relevant
factors including "maintaining control of its docket,
conserving judicial resources, and the important interest of
providing for the just determination of cases pending before
the court." Daywitt v. Minnesota, 2016 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 68512, 2016 WL 3004626, *5 (D. Minn. May 24,
2016). A stay may be warranted where the matter implicates
"rights which are inextricably tied to [a] pending . . .
claim in [another court]." See Kemp v. Tyson Seafood
Grp., Inc., 19 F.Supp.2d 961, 965 (D. Minn. 1998).
"Traditionally, an applicant for a stay has the burden
of showing specific hardship or inequity if he or she is
required to go forward." Jones v. Clinton, 72
F.3d 1354, 1364 (8th Cir. 1996).
Law argues that the ACA International decision has
the potential to “drastically” affect the nature
of this action. Specifically, defendant argues that discovery
in this case could be ...