Judge Denies Stay in TCPA Case Pending Outcome of Supreme Court Ruling

A District Court judge in Washington has denied a defendant’s request to stay its Telephone Consumer Protection Act case until the Supreme Court rules in Facebook v. Duguid, ruling that it is more “desirable” to try and proceed with discovery than it would be to wait.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Lacy v. Comcast Cable Communications can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff is accusing the defendant of making calls to his cell phone using an automated telephone dialing system without obtaining his permission. While he was formerly a client of the defendant, he had stopped using the service for more than five years when he received a new cell phone number and began receiving calls from the defendant. The plaintiff claims to have told the defendant it was calling the wrong number and asked it to stop calling him, but the defendant continued to make more calls, the plaintiff alleges.

The defendant was able to obtain a stay in the case pending the Supreme Court’s ruling in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, but its request for a second pause was not as well received by Judge Ronald Leighton of the District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma.While the Barr case did not directly deal with the definition of an ATDS under the TCPA, the Facebook case does. But Judge Leighton disagreed with the defendant’s argument that continuing with the case “without the Supreme Court’s guidance would be wasteful.”

The plaintiff opposed the stay request, arguing that his class definition includes calls made using an “ATDS and/or an artificial or prerecorded voice,” that the type of ATDS used by the defendant is not yet known, and that the duration of the stay may be longer than the one that was already granted, because the Supreme Court has not yet issued a schedule for the Facebook case.

And, regardless of the outcome in the Supreme Court case, the plaintiff “convincingly” argued that some discovery will need to occur in this case to answer questions unrelated to the ATDS definition.

“Until the Supreme Court decides Duguid, Comcast should be spared from
ATDS-related discovery that may prove superfluous and dispositive motions on certification or liability should be delayed,” Judge Leighton wrote. “However, this appears achievable and is more desirable than staying
the case in its entirety.”

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