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Kennoy v. Synchrony Bank

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 19, 2017

DAVID KENNOY, Plaintiff,
v.
SYNCHRONY BANK and EGS FINANCIAL CARE, INC., Defendants,

          MEMORANDUM

          RICHARD P. CONABOY United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Synchrony Bank's Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.[1] (Doc. 8.) Defendant Synchrony Bank (“Defendant”) asserts that a stay is appropriate because the case of ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, Case No. 15-1211, pending in the D.C. Circuit Court could be dispositive of Plaintiff's Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) claims. Defendant explains that the case involves the statutory definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” under 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1) and Plaintiff seeks to recover $500 to $1, 500 per call under the TCPA, alleging that Defendant used an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”) as defined by the TCPA without Plaintiff's consent. (Doc 20-1 at 1 (citing Compl. ¶ 23; Doc. 1).) For the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes that, although the D.C. Circuit decision may not be dispositive of all of Plaintiff's TCPA claims, the case is properly stayed.

         I. Background

         Defendants removed this case from the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas on October 7, 2016, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441. (Doc. 1.) In the underlying action's introductory paragraph, Plaintiff states the following:

This is an action for damages brought by an individual consumer for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 (hereinafter “TCPA”), and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. (hereinafter “FDCPA”). Defendants placed an excessive number of calls to Plaintiff on a number assigned to a cellular telephone service using equipment regulated by the Act.

(Compl. ¶ 1 (Doc. 1-1 at 4).)

         Relevant to the pending motion, Plaintiff alleges that Synchrony “placed, and caused to be placed” hundreds of calls to his cell phone number, and EGS placed hundreds of calls to his cell phone number. (Compl. ¶¶ 17, 18 (Doc. 1-1 at 6).) He further alleges that the calls made to his cell phone “were made using either an automatic dialing system, as that term in defined in 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1), or an artificial or prerecorded voice.”

(Compl. ¶ 23; Doc. 1-1 at 6.)

         II. Discussion

         Defendant maintains that this case is properly stayed because a case pending in the D.C. Circuit Court is reviewing the FCC interpretation of the term “automatic telephone dialing system” in the TCPA and may overturn the FCC's July 10, 2015, ruling on the matter. (Doc. 20-1 at 2.) Plaintiff responds that the applicable “arbitrary and capricious standard” in the appeal makes it “extremely unlikely that this appeal will result in a change in the law.” (Doc. 23 at 1-2.)

         A 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). In determining whether a stay is appropriate, the district court should consider the following: “(1) the length of the requested stay; (2) the ‘hardship or inequity' that the movant would face going forward with the litigation; (3) the injury that a stay would inflict upon the non-movant; and (4) whether a stay will simplify issues and promote judicial economy.” Rajput v. Synchrony Bank, Civ. A. No. 3:15-CV-1079, 2016 WL 6433134, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 31, 2016) (internal quotation omitted) (listing cases).[2]

         A. Length of the Requested Stay

         Defendant contends that the stay will be relatively short in duration and will not prejudice Plaintiff. (Doc. 20-1 at 10.) Noting that oral argument was heard in the ACA International case on October 19, 2016, Defendant points to cases where the courts concluded that the D.C. Circuit case should not remain pending for an extended time. (Id. (citations omitted).)

         Plaintiff asserts that “staying this matter pending the D.C. Circuit's decision as requested by Synchrony is tantamount to staying this matter indefinitely.” (Doc. 23 at 5.) In support of the assertion, Plaintiff points to another court's conclusion that the stay would be indefinite and assessment that “the D.C. Court of Appeals is unlikely to be the last step as the unsuccessful party is almost certain to appeal to the Supreme ...


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