United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ROSENTHAL CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Alexander alleges that Convergent Outsourcing violated the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by sending her multiple
debt-collection letters after the statute of limitations for
suing to collect the debt had expired. (Docket Entry No. 1).
The letters stated the “total balance” of the
outstanding debt and made a “settlement offer”
that was substantially less than the total amount owed. The
debt-collection letters did not disclose that Alexander was
not obligated to make any payment because the statute of
limitations on a debt-collection action had expired. Nor did
the letter disclose that if Alexander made a partial payment,
that would revive the statute of limitations.
September 8, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued
Daugherty v. Convergent Outsourcing, Inc., 836 F.3d
507 (5th Cir. 2016). The opinion held that an identical
debt-collection letter from Convergent Outsourcing violates
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. (Id.)
(citing 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692e, 1692e(2)(A), 1692f).
Alexander seeks to certify a class of Texas consumers who
received one or more debt-collection letters with the same or
similar language after the statute of limitations had
Outsourcing moved to stay on the basis of an earlier-filed,
nearly identical case in the United States District Court for
the District of Colorado. Ross v. Convergent
Outsourcing, Inc., et al, Case No: 1:16. In
Ross, the plaintiff initially asserted class claims
only on behalf of individuals in Colorado who received
debt-collection letters from Convergent Outsourcing after
limitations had expired.. A potential global settlement
agreement led the Ross plaintiffs to file a second
amended complaint asserting a nationwide class on March 28,
2017. Id., Docket Entry No. 51. The parties in
Ross filed a joint motion for conditional
certification of the nationwide class and for preliminary
approval of the class settlement on April 14, 2017.
Id., Docket Entry No. 56. The nationwide class would
subsume this Texas class. (Docket Entry No. 23 at 4). In
light of these developments, this court granted Convergent
Outsourcing's motion to stay for 60 days. (Docket Entry
No. 32). The stay ended on June 17, 2017. Convergent
Outsourcing now moves to extend the stay. (Docket Entry No.
the court granted the first stay, much has happened in
Ross. Motions to intervene have been filed,
including a motion to intervene by the plaintiff in this
suit. The submission date for those motions is early August.
Despite filing a motion to intervene in the Colorado suit,
Alexander opposes extending the stay in this case. (Docket
Entry No. 26).
district court has the inherent power to stay cases to
control its docket and promote the efficient use of judicial
resources. See Ambraco, Inc. v. Bossclip B.V., 570
F.3d 233, 243 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Landis v. N. Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936)); Ventura v.
David's Bridal, 248 F.3d 1139, 1139 n.2 (5th Cir.
2001). In determining whether a parallel pending case makes a
stay appropriate, a district court must consider various
interests, including: (1) the potential prejudice to the
plaintiffs if a stay is granted; (2) the potential hardship
to the defendants if the stay is denied; and (3) the impact
on the courts in terms of simplifying or complicating the
fact issues, the evidence, and the legal issues. Coker v.
Select Energy Servs., LLC, 161 F.Supp.3d 492, 495 (S.D.
Tex. 2015) (citing Trahan v. BP, CIV.A. H-10-3198,
2010 WL 4065602, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 15, 2010)).
reasons for granting the first stay continue to apply.
(Docket Entry No. 32). The nationwide settlement class in the
Colorado litigation is closer to decision. If it is approved,
it would subsume this Texas class action. (Docket Entry No.
23 at 4). Alexander argued in her initial opposition to the
stay that the Texas plaintiffs could be harmed because
Convergent Outsourcing could run out of money in the face of
a nationwide settlement before paying the Texas claims. There
is no factual basis to support a fear that the Ross
settlement, if approved, would so deplete Convergent's
assets as to deny the Texas plaintiffs any recovery.
also continues to contend that this case could be
significantly delayed if it cannot progress until the
Colorado class certification is resolved. Currently stalling
progress in the Ross case are the number of motions
to intervene, Alexander's among them. On one hand,
Alexander argues that the Ross class issues are
taking too long to resolve; on the other hand, she is
contributing to the delay.
same time, Alexander is right that a prolonged or indefinite
stay of this litigation is unwise. But it is also
unnecessary. This court can enter a short stay. See
Wedgeworth v. Fibreboard Corp., 706 F.2d 541, 545 (5th
Cir. 1983) (citing McKnight v. Blanchard, 667 F.2d
477, 479 (5th Cir.1982) (“Before granting a stay
pending the resolution of another case, the court must
carefully consider the time reasonably expected for
resolution of the ‘other case, ' in light of the
principle that ‘stay orders will be reversed when they
are found to be immoderate or of an indefinite
duration.'”). That will allow the motions to
intervene in the Colorado Ross case, including
Alexander's motion, to be resolved before this Texas case
continues. The resolution of those motions will impact this
litigation, the fate of the nationwide class, provide a
timeline for preliminary approval of a nationwide class, and
will give this court better guidance on how to proceed in
Outsourcing's motion to extend the stay of the
proceedings is granted. (Docket Entry No. 34). This case is
stayed until October 16, 2017, or until 14 days
after the motions to intervene in the Ross
litigation are resolved, whichever is earliest. The parties
must file a joint status update on the Ross
litigation on August 14, 2017 and September 18, 2017. The
parties will appear at a status conference on October 5, 2017
at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 11-B. If the motions to intervene
are decided before October 16, 2017, this court may reset ...