United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to
Confirm Arbitration Award and for Entry of Final Judgment
(Dkt. #11), and Defendants' 12(b)(1) Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Motion to Confirm Arbitration Award (Dkt.
#12). After careful consideration, Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss will be denied, and Plaintiff's Motion to Confirm
Arbitration Award will be granted.
Conn's, Inc., Conn Appliances, Inc., and Conn Credit
Corporation (collectively, “Conn”) sell consumer
goods. As stated in its SEC filings, Conn provides
high-interest loans to “customers that are considered
higher-risk, subprime borrowers.” (Dkt. #1, pp. 6-7).
This means that there is “a higher risk of customer
default, higher delinquency rates, and higher losses than
extending credit to more creditworthy customers.” (Dkt.
#1, pp. 6-7). When a customer defaults, Conn uses prerecorded
voice messages to help collect debts that may be owed.
Conn's “predictive dialer system . . . helps [it]
contact . . . over 26, 000 delinquent customers daily.”
(Dkt. #1, ¶ 43). Conn also changes its phone numbers
every day to make it impossible to block its calls.
Tonya Erin Stevens is a Conn's customer that Conn
believes owes it a debt. In 2015, Conn began calling Stevens
daily, sometimes over ten times a day. Stevens repeatedly
asked Conn to stop, informing Conn on one occasion that it
called while she was sitting vigil as her grandmother passed.
But Conn would not relent. One Conn employee told Stevens
that the automatic calls continue until the payment is made
in full. Altogether, Conn called Stevens over 1, 800 times.
filed suit against Conn for violations of the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47 U.S.C.
§ 227, and the Texas Business and Commerce Code, Chapter
305. At the Parties' request, the Court referred the case
to arbitration, and stayed the case. In Arbitration, Stevens
voluntarily dismissed her original claims, and amended her
complaint to add a claim for a violation of the Texas Debt
Collection Act (“TDCA”). After finding that Conn
“oppressed, harassed, and abused” Stevens in
violation on the TDCA, the Arbitrator awarded $184, 700 for
actual damages ($100 per call), $28, 895.26 in attorney's
fees, and interest (Dkt. #11, Exhibit 1).
now moves to confirm the arbitration before the Court. Conn
did not respond to the motion and, instead, moved to dismiss
the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Stevens, in
turn, argues that the TCPA claim in the original complaint
establishes federal-question jurisdiction. The Court now
considers the motions.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013) (quoting
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994)). Subject matter jurisdiction can be
established by a federal question or diversity of citizenship
between the parties. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.
Federal-question jurisdiction authorizes original
jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties in the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Diversity jurisdiction authorizes the
courts to have jurisdiction if the “matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000” and
the parties are diverse in citizenship. 28 U.S.C. §
1332. “[I]n any civil action of which the district
courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall
have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are
so related to claims in the action within such original
jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or
controversy.” 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
addressing whether the federal question sufficiently meets
the requirements of the courts, the “well-pleaded
complaint” rule must be applied, under which “a
federal question must appear on the face of the
complaint.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 399 (1987); Elam v. Kansas City S. Ry.
Co., 635 F.3d 796, 803 (5th Cir. 2011). If there is a
concern about the validity of jurisdiction, a motion to
dismiss may be raised under the Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1). “The objection that a federal court
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised by a party,
or by the court on its own initiative, at any stage in the
litigation.” Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546
U.S. 500, 506 (2006) (citation omitted).
the Arbitrator dismissed the only federal claim raised, Conn
asks the Court to dismiss the case for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. Stevens counters that the Court retains
federal-question jurisdiction, and asks the Court to confirm
the arbitration award.
asks the Court to dismiss this case for a lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court disagrees because