As we wrote last week, the Squire Patton Boggs TCPA team earned the first opposed order in the nation staying a TCPA case pending Duguid. Obviously it was not going to be the last.
Yesterday, the Western District of Washington joined the increasing chorus of courts that have stayed TCPA cases pending the Supreme Court’s decision in Duguid. In Jensen v. Roto-Rooter Servs. Co., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151256 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 20, 2020), the court, which had already stayed the case pending Barr, granted the defendant’s request to extend the stay finding that the “question of what constitutes an auto dialer under the TCPA is central to this litigation” and “extending the stay of proceedings will benefit both parties and the Court by pausing possibly unnecessary litigation and discovery.”
The court began its analysis by detailing the current Circuit split on what equipment falls within the definition of ATDS. Noting that Duguid will resolve the split and address the scope of the ATDS definition, the court found that the Supreme Court’s decision in Duguid will address a question “central” to this litigation.
The court found that any hardship suffered by Plaintiff from continuing the stay would be “minimal,” noting that “Plaintiff does not allege that she or other class members have received unauthorized text messages since January 2020, and therefore her damages will not be affected if a stay is granted.” Furthermore, the court found that a delay in a final judgment is not sufficient grounds for denying the stay request.
On the other hand, the court found that Defendant would suffer if the stay were denied. “In this class action case, Defendant would bear asymmetric discovery burdens and costs associated with defending itself against the purported class’s claims.” And, as the court noted, such discovery could be “moot” depending on the outcome of Duguid.
Finally, the court found that the interests of judicial economy favor a stay, as the proceedings are still in an early stage with neither party expending significant resources. “A stay will thus allow the Court to preserve judicial resources.”
For those of us defending TCPA class actions, this is a succinct, well-reasoned decision that squarely rejects the notion that we so often see by plaintiffs in these cases arguing that the costs and burdens associated with defending a class action case cannot constitute prejudice to a defendant. Au contraire mon ami.