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Patterson v. Asbury S.C. Lex LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

December 29, 2016

DANIEL PATTERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ASBURY S.C. LEX, L.L.C., d/b/a Lexus of Greenville, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

          MARY GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a diversity action. Plaintiff Daniel Patterson brings a state claim of wrongful termination in violation of public policy against Defendant Asbury S.C. Lex, L.L.C. The Court has jurisdiction over the matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, or in the alternative, its motion to stay and compel arbitration (collectively, motion). Having considered Defendant's motion, Plaintiff's response, and Defendant's reply, the Court will grant the motion to dismiss and compel arbitration.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff commenced working with Defendant in December 2012. Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment on December 22, 2015. Plaintiff signed an “Arbitration Agreement, ” (agreement) dated December 2, 2010, setting forth, in relevant part, the following:

This Agreement between [Plaintiff] and [Defendant] is intended to provide the exclusive means of resolving all Disputes, as defined below, which may arise between them. In consideration for their mutual promises, both parties, by entering into this Agreement, give up their right to trial by court or by jury. This Agreement is not a contract of employment but arises out of the individual's employment or prospective employment that involves interstate commerce. This Agreement is to be enforced under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). In the event . . . it is determined . . . the FAA does not apply, then this Agreement shall be enforced under the appropriate state arbitration act.
*****
2. DISPUTES SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION: a) Disputes subject to arbitration are all Disputes between the parties which may otherwise be brought in a court or before a governmental agency, whether or not arising out of or related to the Individual's application for employment, employment, or termination of employment with the Company, and whether or not arising before, during or after any employment relationship between the parties. Also subject to arbitration are disputes involving any person or entity whose liability or right of recovery derives from a Dispute that is covered by this Agreement (e.g., partner, agent, subsidiary or parent corporation, affiliate, shareholder, successor or assign of a party).
(b) Such Disputes include, but are not limited to, claims of refusal to hire, wrongful termination, breach of contract, defamation, assault, battery, violation of public policy, negligent retention, negligent supervision, negligent entrustment, invasion of privacy, retaliation, wrongful imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, any other tort, contract, equitable, statutory, or constitutional claim, breaches of any duty owed by an employee to an employer, and claims against an employee, officer, director or agent of the Company who has agreed to arbitrate a claim which would directly or indirectly subject either party to liability. Disputes also include any claims of discrimination or harassment prohibited by applicable law, including statutory and/or common law claims of discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, race, national origin, religion, disability, sex/gender, color or citizenship. Further, Disputes include claims related to payment of wages and compensation, polygraph examinations, layoffs due to plant closings, health, retirement or pension benefits, veterans' rights, obtaining or using credit reports, drug testing, whistle blowing activity and leaves of absence. Class actions and requests for declaratory relief are also covered by this Agreement.

ECF No. 5-1 at 1.

         Plaintiff filed this action in the Greenville County Court of Common Pleas. In the complaint, Plaintiff makes a claim of wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Defendant removed the case to this Court and then, in lieu of filing an answer, filed its motion to dismiss and compel arbitration. Plaintiff filed a response to the motion, to which Defendant filed its reply. The Court, having been fully briefed on the relevant issues, is prepared to adjudicate Defendant's motion.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) provides a federal district court with the authority to enforce an arbitration agreement by compelling parties to arbitrate their dispute. 9 U.S.C. § 4 (“A party aggrieved by the alleged failure, neglect, or refusal of another to arbitrate under a written agreement for arbitrator refusal of another to arbitrate under a written on may petition any United States district court which, save for such agreement, would have jurisdiction under Title 28 . . . for an order directing that such arbitration proceed in the manner provided for in such agreement.”). States are vested with the same authority. See Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 25 (1983). Section 2 of the FAA applies to any “contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of such contract, ” and it provides that the written agreements to arbitrate contained in such contracts “shall be valid, ...


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