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Young v. AMIsub of South Carolina, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

August 17, 2018

Suzanne Young, Plaintiff,
AMIsub of South Carolina, Inc. d/b/a Piedmont Medical Center, Defendant.


          Shiva V. Hodges Columbia, South Carolina United States Magistrate Judge

         In this employment discrimination case, Suzanne Young (“Plaintiff”) sues AMIsub of South Carolina, Inc. d/b/a Piedmont Medical Center (“Defendant”), alleging (1) sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (“Title VII”); and (2) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (“ADA”). [ECF No. 1-1]. This matter comes before the court on Defendant's motion to compel arbitration and to dismiss or stay all claims. [ECF No. 6]. The motion having been fully briefed [ECF Nos. 10, 11], it is ripe for disposition.

         All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.). Because the motion is dispositive, this report and recommendation is entered for the district judge's consideration. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends the district court grant Defendant's motion to compel arbitration.

         I. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was hired by Defendant as its Director of Imaging and Pain Services in April 2011. Compl. at ¶ 8. Upon her hire, Plaintiff executed an acknowledgment (“Agreement”), under which she and Defendant agreed to arbitrate any disputes or disagreements arising out of or relating to Plaintiff's employment with Defendant. Specifically, the Agreement states:

Except to the extent that any applicable collective bargaining agreement provided otherwise, I hereby voluntarily agree to use the Company's Fair Treatment Process and to submit to final and binding arbitration of any and all claims and disputes that are related in any way to my employment or the termination of my employment with Tenet. I understand that final and binding arbitration will be the sole and exclusive remedy of any such claim or dispute against Tenet or its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies or entities, and each of its and/or their employees, officers, directors or agents, and that, by agreeing to the use of arbitration to resolve my dispute, both the Company and I agree to forego any right we each may have had to a jury trial on issues covered by the Fair Treatment Process. I also agree that such arbitration will be conducted before an experienced arbitrator chosen by me and the Company, and will be conducted under the Federal Arbitration Act and the procedural rules of the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”).
I further acknowledge that in exchange for my agreement to arbitrate, the Company also agrees to submit all claims and disputes it may have with me to final and binding arbitration, and that the Company further agrees that if I submit a request for binding arbitration, my maximum out-of-pocket expenses for the arbitrator and the administrative cost of the AAA will be an amount equal to one day's pay (if I am an exempt employee) or eight times my hourly rate of pay (if I am a non-exempt employee) or a mandated cap, if lower, and that the Company will pay all of the remaining fees and administrative costs of the arbitrator and the AAA. I further acknowledge that this mutual agreement to arbitrate may not be modified or rescinded except in writing by both me and the Company.

[ECF No. 6-1] (emphasis in original). The Agreement was signed by Plaintiff on April 12, 2011. Id.

         Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment on or about June 18, 2017. Compl. at ¶ 30. On May 25, 2018, Plaintiff filed an action in the Court of Common Pleas for York County, South Carolina, that Defendant removed on June 12, 2018, subsequently filing its motion to compel arbitration. [ECF No. 1].

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         Defendant moves to compel arbitration under Section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), which provides in part that a “party aggrieved by the alleged failure, neglect, or refusal of another to arbitrate under a written agreement for arbitration may petition any United States district court . . . for an order directing that such arbitration proceed in the manner provided for in such agreement.” 9 U.S.C. § 4. Section 2 of the FAA states that a written arbitration agreement “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. “[Q]uestions of arbitrability must be addressed with a healthy regard for the federal policy favoring arbitration . . . [and] any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration.” Moses H. Cone Mem'l Hosp. v. Mercury Const. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 23-24 (1983). Although federal law governs the arbitrability of disputes, ordinary state-law principles resolve issues regarding the formation of contracts. Am. Gen. Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Wood, 429 F.3d 83, 87 (4th Cir. 2005).

         “Motions to compel arbitration in which the parties dispute the validity of the arbitration agreement are treated as motions for summary judgment.” Rose v. New Day Fin., LLC, 816 F.Supp.2d 245, 251 (D. Md. 2011). “Accordingly, arbitration should be compelled where ‘the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Erichsen v. RBC Capital Markets, LLC, 883 F.Supp.2d 562, 566-67 (E.D. N.C. 2012) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56). A trial is necessary if the material facts regarding the making of an agreement to arbitrate are in dispute. Avedon Engineering, Inc. v. Seatex, 126 F.3d 1279, 1283 (10th Cir. 1997).

         To compel arbitration under the FAA, a litigant must demonstrate: “(1) the existence of a dispute between the parties, (2) a written agreement that includes an arbitration provision which purports to cover the dispute, (3) the relationship of the transaction, which is evidenced by the agreement, to interstate or foreign commerce, and (4) the failure, neglect or refusal of the defendant to arbitrate the dispute.” Adkins v. Labor ...

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