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Williams v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

February 7, 2017

NORMA WILLIAMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SANTANDER CONSUMER USA, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The plaintiffs in this action allege that the defendant, Santander Consumer USA (Santander), violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by using an automatic telephone dialing system to call the plaintiffs' cell phones without the plaintiffs' prior express consent. (Doc. 1, ¶¶ 31-51). The Court previously denied Santander's motion to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction with respect to the claims of eight plaintiffs who reside in and received phone calls from Santander in Tennessee. (Doc. 44). Santander now asks the Court to reconsider its previous order regarding personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 56). Alternatively, Santander asks the Court to certify the question of personal jurisdiction with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs for immediate appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). (Doc. 56). This opinion addresses Santander's motion for reconsideration and alternative request for an interlocutory appeal.

         I. STANDARD FOR RECONSIDERATION

         “In the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources, reconsideration of an order is an extraordinary remedy and is employed sparingly.” Rueter v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 440 F.Supp.2d 1256, 1267 (N.D. Ala. 2006). “Indeed, as a general rule, ‘[a] motion to reconsider is only available when a party presents the court with evidence of an intervening change in controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct clear error or manifest injustice.'” Id. at 1268 (quoting Summit Med. Ctr. of Ala., Inc. v. Riley, 284 F.Supp.2d 1350, 1355 (M.D. Ala. 2003)) (alteration provided by Rueter). “A motion for reconsideration should not be used to present authorities available at the time of the first decision or to reiterate arguments previously made.” Z.K. Marine, Inc. v. Archigetis, 808 F.Supp. 1561, 1563 (S.D. Fla. 1992).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for reconsideration

         In its opinion denying Santander's motion to dismiss the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims for lack of personal jurisdiction, the Court found that “[t]here is simply no constitutional harm in compelling Santander to defend TCPA claims of plaintiffs from both Alabama and Tennessee in this forum when Santander created contacts with Alabama and designed a means of debt collection that makes litigation of all of these claims in Alabama both fair and efficient.” (Doc. 44, p. 14). The Court explained that, because Santander's practice of attempting to collect debt by calling borrowers' cell phones potentially reaches into every state, the company knows or reasonably should know that it may be compelled to litigate in any state. (Doc. 44, p. 12).

         In its motion for reconsideration, Santander does not contend that new evidence has become available, nor does the company present evidence of an intervening change in controlling law. Rather, Santander reiterates the arguments it raised in its motion to dismiss.[1] Specifically, Santander argues that because the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims do not arise from “any of [Santander's] Alabama activities, ” the Court is without jurisdiction over Santander with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims. (Doc. 56, p. 4).

         As the Court has explained, the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims arise from Santander's practice of calling borrowers' cell phones to collect debt. Because of the mobile nature of cell phones, Santander cannot predict where a borrower will be located when he or she receives a call from Santander on his or her cell phone. Thus, each time Santander calls a borrower's cell phone, the company knows or reasonably should know that it may have to litigate a TCPA claim in any state as a result of that call. The Court's exercise of jurisdiction over Santander with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims, in conjunction with its exercise of jurisdiction over the Alabama plaintiffs' claims, is therefore consistent with the constitutional principles that underlie the law of personal jurisdiction. See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. State of Wash., Office of Unemployment Comp. and Placement, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)) (requiring courts to consider “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice” when deciding whether to exercise personal jurisdiction).

         The Court's denial of Santander's motion to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs does not constitute clear error or manifest injustice. Accordingly, the Court denies Santander's motion to reconsider whether the Court has personal jurisdiction over the company with respect to the Tennessee plaintiffs' claims.

         B. Request to file interlocutory appeal

         Alternatively, Santander asks the Court for leave under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) to file a permissive interlocutory appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. (See Doc. 56). Section 1292(b) provides:

When a district judge, in making in a civil action an order not otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the opinion that such order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation, he shall so state in writing in such order.

28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Section 1292(b) was prompted by a proposal to Congress from the Judicial Conference of the United States Courts. See McFarlin v. Conseco Servs., LLC, 381 F.3d 1251, 1256 (11th Cir. 2004). The proposal was based, in part, on a report authored by a committee of judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court to study the matter of interlocutory appeals. Id. Emphasizing the “limited scope” of the proposed remedy, the report stated that “appeal from interlocutory orders . . . should be used only in exceptional cases where a decision of the appeal may avoid protracted and expensive litigation, as in antitrust and similar protracted cases . . . .” Id. at 1256 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The report further ...


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