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Edwards v. Conn's, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 27, 2019

FRANCINE EDWARDS, Plaintiff
v.
CONN’S, INC. and CONN APPLIANCES, INC., Defendants RAC ACCEPTANCE EAST, LLC d/b/a ACCEPTANCENOW, Intervenor

          ORDER ON MULTIPLE MOTIONS [ECF NOS. 28, 29, 30, 38, 56, 73]

          ANDREW P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Several motions are pending. The parties are familiar with the facts of this case, so I provide only a brief summary here.

         Plaintiff Francine Edwards brings a putative class action against Conn’s, Inc. and Conn. Appliances, Inc. (collectively, Conn. Appliances) for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). She contends that Conn. Appliances called her cellular phone on numerous occasions without her consent seeking payment for a laptop computer that she rented from AcceptanceNOW in one of Conn. Appliances’ stores. ECF No. 1. Conn. Appliances moves to dismiss, arguing 1) the TCPA is an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech, and 2) Edwards has not plausibly alleged Conn. Appliances called her to collect a debt given that the debt is owed to AcceptanceNOW, not Conn. Appliances. ECF No. 28.

         Conn Appliances also moves to dismiss the non-Nevada putative class members’ claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. ECF No. 29. It moves to strike Edwards’ proposed class definition as an improper failsafe that would overburden discovery proceedings, as well as paragraphs 76 through 81 of her complaint as irrelevant and prejudicial. ECF No. 30. And it moves to stay the case pending the outcome of the Ninth Circuit decision in Gallion v. Charter Communications, arguing the decision will determine the TCPA’s constitutionality. ECF No. 38.

         Thereafter, Edwards moved to amend her complaint. ECF No. 56. The United States may intervene in the case, depending on my decision regarding the motion to amend. ECF No. 64. AcceptanceNOW (through RAC Acceptance East, LLC) moved to intervene in the case, which I granted as unopposed. ECF Nos. 67; 70. AcceptanceNOW then moved to compel arbitration, arguing it has a valid arbitration agreement with Edwards that covers the claims at issue. ECF No. 73.

         I. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Stay

         Conn Appliances moved to stay this case pending the outcome of the Ninth Circuit decision in Gallion v. Charter Communications. I deny Conn. Appliances’ motion as moot. After the briefing was completed, the Ninth Circuit decided Gallion and held, in an unpublished decision, that the 2015 amendment to the TCPA, which exempted calls made to collect “a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States, ” is an unconstitutional content-based speech regulation. Gallion v. United States, 772 Fed.App’x 604, 605 (9th Cir. 2019) (quotation and citation omitted). However, the court found the government debt collection exemption to be severable, thereby preserving the constitutionality of the remainder of the TCPA. Id. at 606 (citing Duguid v. Facebook, Inc., 926 F.3d 1146, 1156-57 (9th Cir. 2019)). Moving forward, all claims in this case will continue under the pre-amendment TCPA, which the Ninth Circuit has held to be content-neutral and consistent with the First Amendment. See Duguid, 926 F.3d at 1153 (citing prior holdings that found the TCPA satisfied intermediate scrutiny because it was narrowly tailored to advance the government’s interest in residential privacy).

         B. Motion to Compel Arbitration

         AcceptanceNOW argues that Edwards’ claims must be resolved through arbitration because she signed a valid arbitration agreement. ECF No. 73 at 12-16. It also argues that the delegation clause in the agreement requires all gateway issues, like whether her claims are governed by the agreement, to be decided by an arbitrator. Id. at 7-8. Edwards argues that she is not asserting any claims against AcceptanceNOW and that her claims against Conn. Appliances do not arise from her agreement with AcceptanceNOW. ECF No. 80 at 3. AcceptanceNOW replies that Edwards’ claims against Conn. Appliances arise from the lease-purchase agreement she signed to purchase a laptop. ECF No. 82 at 4-5. Because the arbitration agreement was signed in connection with her purchase, it contends that all claims relating to the laptop must be resolved by the arbitrator. Id.

         Section 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) “creates a policy favoring enforcement of agreements to arbitrate.” Marmet Health Care Ctr., Inc. v. Brown, 132 S.Ct. 1201, 1203 (2012); 9 U.S.C. § 2. “A party seeking to compel arbitration has the burden under the FAA to show (1) the existence of a valid, written agreement to arbitrate; and, if it exists, (2) that the agreement to arbitrate encompasses the dispute at issue.” Ashbey v. Archstone Prop. Mgmt., Inc., 785 F.3d 1320, 1323 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Had Edwards tried to litigate a claim against AcceptanceNOW regarding the laptop lease-purchase agreement, she would have had to arbitrate. But Edwards states she is not asserting a claim against AcceptanceNOW. I granted AcceptanceNOW’s motion to intervene because it was unopposed. It is unclear to me why Edwards did not respond to its motion to intervene. Regardless, Edwards has now unequivocally stated that she is not asserting any claims against AcceptanceNOW, so I dismiss it from this case and deny its motion to compel arbitration as moot.[1]

         C. Motion to Amend Complaint

         Edwards moves to amend her complaint, arguing that the amendment would clarify her TCPA claims and add more factual detail. ECF No. 56 at 2. Conn. Appliances opposes, arguing the proposed amendment was requested in bad faith and amendment ...


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