Repeat Plaintiff Melody Stoops recently asked a judge to modify her order to remand her case to state court, where she could re-litigate her recent Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) case – a case that had just been dismissed by a Pennsylvania District Court. The case hinged on technicalities and the limits of legal definitions, but ultimately the court denied her request.
On June 28, 2016, insideARM wrote about a case involving a Plaintiff whose business was making TCPA claims and filing TCPA lawsuits. (See Pennsylvania District Court Dismisses TCPA Lawsuit Where Plaintiff Manufactured Claims.) The Defendant brought a motion for summary judgment. The Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s TCPA suit determining that Plaintiff lacked Article III standing to assert her claim because she is not a member of the class that the TCPA was designed to protect, and did not suffer the type of harm that the TCPA was designed to prevent.
On July 8, 2016, the Plaintiff brought a Motion to amend the judgment entered on June 24, 2016. Plaintiff argued that the Court erred by failing to remand this action to the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County after determining that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff apparently wanted to re-litigate the case in state court.
On August 12, 2016, the same Court issued another ruling in the case.
The issue before the Court was whether a lack of “prudential standing” results in a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Specifically, Plaintiff asserted that because the Court dismissed the lawsuit by concluding that she lacked constitutional standing, it was required to remand the matter to the state court.
The issue of “prudential standing” and the arguments made by the parties and Court’s opinion are hyper-technical and best left for a Law School Civil Procedure exam. There are law review articles galore on the topic. See, for example The Story of Prudential Standing, authored by S. Todd Brown, Associate Professor, Buffalo Law School.
Plaintiff argued that the Court must remand her case because “once the federal court determines that it lacks jurisdiction, it must remand the case back to the appropriate state court.”
See here for the complete Memorandum Opinion and Order.
The Court concluded that “prudential standing” is non-jurisdictional. Judge Kim R. Gibson wrote:
“The Court had subject matter jurisdiction over this matter and properly granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment after finding that Plaintiff lacked prudential standing.
Accordingly, because the Court had subject-matter jurisdiction over this case, a remand to the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County is unwarranted.”
Plaintiff has not established that she has constitutional or prudential standing to assert her claim against Defendant. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to amend the judgment is DENIED.”
It will be interesting to see whether there will be an appeal filed in this case. As noted above, the issues are very technical and nuanced, but the result – money-making schemes like this one not finding favor in the Court’s eyes – is a positive for the industry. The initial decision and now this second Opinion are both wins for the ARM industry and any business defending a TCPA claims.