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Stein v. Navient Solutions, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

May 7, 2018

LEAH STEIN, LOREN STEIN, and KENNETH STEIN
v.
NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, LLC f/k/a NAVIENT SOLUTIONS, INC. and JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10

          THE HONORABLE LEE YEAKEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ANDREW W. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court are Defendant Navient Solutions, LLC's Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum of Law (Dkt. No. 4); and Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition (Dkt. No. 6). The District Court referred these Motions to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b) and Rule 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Leah, Loren, and Kenneth Stein bring this action pursuant to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, et seq., alleging they were subjected to unwanted autodial cellular telephone calls by debt collector Navient, who was looking for an individual named “Laurie Stein” in an effort to collect that individual's overdue student loans. The Steins allege that none of them had outstanding overdue student loans, and they informed Navient that it was calling the wrong people. Plaintiff Leah Stein also brings claims pursuant to the Texas Business & Commerce Code, Chapter 305, et seq., for the same actions.

         Plaintiff, Leah Stein is a citizen and resident of the State of Texas who resides in Austin, Texas. Plaintiffs, Loren and Kenneth Stein are citizens and residents of the State of Oklahoma residing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Navient's motion is a picture of confusion, as the majority of it is dedicated to the dismissal of claims that have not been brought by the plaintiffs. Navient first asserts that a Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act claim should be dismissed, but none of the Steins have stated a DTPA claim in the Complaint. Navient also requests that the Court dismiss Kenneth and Loren Stein's claim under Chapter 305 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, as they are not Texas citizens.[1] But Kenneth and Loren Stein have not filed that claim. Instead, their only claim is brought under the relevant federal statute, 47 U.S.C. § 227. Only Leah Stein, who does reside in Texas, makes a claim pursuant to the Texas statute. Needless to say, all of these arguments by Navient are meritless, and should be denied.

         Navient also makes a similarly irrelevant argument for the dismissal of Leah Stein's claim under the Texas statute, contending that it is exempt from the statute because Navient is a wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly traded corporation registered with the SEC, and Leah Stein has failed to state a claim under the statute because all it requires Navient to do is register with the state. The problem with Navient's argument is that it is based on Tex. Bus. Comm. Code § 302.053, which does not apply to the statute under which Leah Stein is bringing her claim-TEX. Bus. Comm. Code § 305.053. By the express language of the statute Navient is relying on, the exemptions explicitly apply only to claims brought under that chapter of the code-Chapter 302. They have no applicability to claims brought under Chapter 305, which is the statute Leah Stein is proceeding under.

         The one and only potentially relevant argument Navient raises relates to the propriety of Kenneth and Loren Stein as plaintiffs. Navient contends that they are improperly joined and their claims should be dismissed. The relevant rules are Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 20 and 21. Rule 21 states: “Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action. On motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may also sever any claim against a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Rule 20 addresses the joinder of plaintiffs, and states:

         Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if:

(A) they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(1). “Since Rule 21 does not provide any standards by which district courts can determine if parties are misjoined, courts have looked to Rule 20 for guidance.” Acevedo v. Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc., 600 F.3d 516, 521 (5th Cir. 2010). “Courts have described Rule 20 as creating a two-prong test, allowing joinder of plaintiffs when (1) their claims arise out of the ‘same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences' and when (2) there is at least one common question of law or fact linking all claims.” Id. Generally, if both prongs are met, ...


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