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Many Courts Granting Stays in TCPA Cases Pending SCOTUS Decision in Facebook v. Duguid

A person opens Facebook on a smartphone, a laptop and cup of coffee are visible in the background

Posted by Chris Alarie on Thu, 02/11/2021 - 12:49

Following December’s oral arguments, the entire telemarketing industry is awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Facebook v. Duguid. Apparently, many lower courts that hear Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) cases are doing so, as well. Continuing a trend that began after the Supreme Court first granted certification to Facebook’s appeal, numerous lower courts are granting stays in TCPA cases pending SCOTUS’s Facebook decision.

As documented by TCPA Defense Force, courts have granted stays in at least five TCPA cases—Ulery v. AT&T Mobility Servs., LLC, No. 20-CV-02354-PAB-KMT, 2020 WL 7333835 (D. Colo. Dec. 12, 2020); Berrow v. Navient Sols. LLC, No. CV-20-01342-PHX-SMB, 2020 WL 8267706 (D. Ariz. Dec. 17, 2020); Van Elzen v. Glob. Strategy Grp., LLC, No. 20-CV-3541 (JPO), 2021 WL 185328 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 19, 2021); Frey v. Frontier Utilities Ne. LLC, No. CV 19-2372-KSM, 2021 WL 322818 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 1, 2021); and Wilson v. Rater8, LLC, No. 20-CV-1515-DMS-LL, 2021 WL 347306 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 2, 2021)—since the December 8, 2020 oral arguments in Facebook.

While this isn’t an unanimous trend—at least one court refused to stay a TCPA case despite similar circumstances—it seems like a pragmatic and fair response. SCOTUS’s coming decision in Facebook could set the precedent of an extremely narrow definition of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). As many TCPA lawsuits and class actions center on alleged ATDS violations, the consequences of a narrow ATDS definition could be significant for any currently pending cases.

A decision could be coming soon, too. Eric Troutman at TCPAWorld predicts that SCOTUS is likely to render a decision in Facebook sometime in April or May of this year.