UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION
April 6, 2011
HOPKINS & CARLEY, ALC,
THOMSON ELITE, A
DIVISION OF WEST PUBLISHING CORPORATION,
AND DOES 1 THROUGH 25,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
United States District Court For the Northern District of California
Defendant Thomson Elite moves to compel arbitration and dismiss this action. The Courtheard oral argument on March 31, 2011. Having considered the arguments and submissions of the parties, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to compel arbitration. By April 21, 2011, the parties shall file a stipulation dismissing the action without prejudice and providing for tolling of the statute of limitations.
This action arises out of a contractual agreement between Plaintiff Hopkins & Carley, ALC ("Plaintiff" or "H&C") and Defendant Thomson Elite ("Defendant" or "Thomson"). H&C is a California Law Corporation located in San Jose, California. Compl. ¶ 1. Thomson is a software development and consulting firm incorporated under the laws of Minnesota, with its principal place 28 of business in Minnesota. Compl. ¶ 5; Notice of Removal ¶ 7. In 2005, H&C began exploring options to replace its existing accounting and law practice management software. Compl. ¶ 6.
After meeting with Thomson and participating in an interactive product
demonstration, H&C 3 agreed to purchase Thomson's Elite financial and
practice management system, with certain specified customizations.
Compl. ¶¶ 7-8. On June 8, 2006, the parties entered into a Customer
("Rosenberg Decl.") ¶ 2-3 & Ex. A, attached to Def.'s Mot. to Compel
Arbitration, ECF No. 9. 7
H&C claims that while it was still in the process of implementing the
Elite software, Thomson 8 approached H&C and encouraged it to switch
to Thomson's new 3E software product. Compl. ¶ 9. 9
Agreement for the Elite software and associated services.*fn1
Decl. of Melina Rosenberg
Thomson allegedly told H&C that the new 3E product was far superior
and that H&C could switch 10 to the new product at no additional cost.
Id. Based on Thomson's representations, H&C agreed to
switch from the older Elite product to the newer 3E product. Compl. ¶
10. On September 28,
2006, the parties executed an Amendment to the Customer Agreement (the
"Amendment") that 13 replaced the Software and Fee Schedule to
substitute the 3E software and added certain other 14 provisions.
Rosenberg Decl. Ex. B. H&C also agreed to purchase Thomson's Client
Management ("CRM") product, which Thomson claimed was easily
integrated with the 3E 16 product. Compl. ¶ 11.
and eventually switched its entire accounting function to the new
3E platform. Compl. ¶ 12. After
¶ 13. H&C claims that at first Thomson represented that these problems
were minor bugs that could easily be fixed. Compl. ¶ 14. Despite
these early assurances, however, H&C claims that
Thomson was never able to make the 3E product function and that the
minor "bugs" were in fact serious structural problems that made the
product unusable and unfixable. Id. Although Thomson allegedly
represented that the 3E product was complete and available when H&C
agreed to purchase it, H&C believes that the product was actually
still in development and was essentially a
Customer Agreement as an exhibit to the motion to compel arbitration.
As H&C has not objected to this submission and cites to it in its
opposition brief, it appears that the documents submitted by
Thomson are true and correct copies of the parties' agreement that may
be considered by the Court in ruling on the motion to compel
H&C claims that it spent considerable time and resources implementing that 3E product 3E was operational, however, H&C began to note various problems with its operations. Compl. prototype that had never before been sold or successfully implemented. Compl. ¶ 15. H&C therefore believes that Thomson negligently and intentionally misrepresented the status and availability of the 3E product in order to induce H&C to purchase it. Compl. ¶¶ 15-17. H&C claims that Thomson compounded the consequences of its actions by taking the 3E system live even though it knew the system was not ready. Compl. ¶ 17. H&C also claims that the CRM product was not even in production when H&C agreed to purchase it and believes, contrary to Compl. ¶ 20.
On September 28, 2010, H&C filed suit in the Superior Court of the
County of Santa Clara,
the action to federal court on December 21, 2010, on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. H&C's
valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as
exist at law or in equity for the 20 avoidance of any contract." 9
U.S.C. § 2. In deciding whether a dispute is arbitrable, a court must
21 answer two questions: (1) whether the parties agreed to arbitrate,
and, if so, (2) whether the scope 22 of that agreement to arbitrate
encompasses the claims at issue. Chiron Corporation v. Ortho
Diagnostic Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). If a party
seeking arbitration 24 establishes these two factors, the court must
compel arbitration. 9 U.S.C. § 4; Chiron, 207 F.3d at 25
1130. "The standard for demonstrating arbitrability is not a high one;
in fact, a district court has 26 little discretion to deny a
arbitration motion, since the [FAA] is phrased in mandatory terms."
Complaint asserts six causes of action: (1) fraudulent performance of contract; (2) fraudulent 13 inducement of contract; (3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) breach of contract; (5) breach of 14 express and implied warranty; and (6) rescission. Thomson now argues that each of these claims is 15 encompassed by the arbitration clause contained in the original Customer Agreement and retained 16 by the Amendment. Thomson thus moves to compel arbitration and dismiss the action.
"arbitration is a matter of contract and a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any
The Federal Arbitration Act mandates that written agreements to
arbitrate disputes "shall be
Republic of Nicaragua v. Standard Fruit Co., 937 F.2d 469, 475 (9th
Cir. 1991). Nonetheless,
dispute which he has not agreed so to submit." AT & T Technologies,
Inc. v. Communications
Workers of America, 475 U.S. 643, 648 (1986) (quoting Steelworkers v.
Warrior & Gulf
The FAA creates a body of federal substantive law of arbitrability
that requires a healthy
regard for the federal policy favoring arbitration and preempts
state law to the contrary. Volt
468, 475-479 (1989); Ticknor v. Choice Hotels Intern., Inc., 265 F.3d
931, 936-37 (9th Cir. 2001).
F.3d at 936-37. When deciding whether the parties agreed to arbitrate a certain matter, courts 10 generally apply ordinary state-law principles of contract interpretation. First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995). Parties may also contract to arbitrate according to state rules, so long as those rules do not offend the federal policy favoring arbitration. Volt, 489 U.S. at "general state-law principles of contract interpretation, while giving due regard to the federal 15 policy in favor of arbitration by resolving ambiguities as to the scope of arbitration in favor of 16 arbitration." Mundi v. Union Sec. Life Ins. Co., 555 F.3d 1042, 1044 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Wagner v. Stratton Oakmont, Inc., 83 F.3d 1046, 1049 (9th Cir. 1996)). "[A]s with any other 18 contract, the parties' intentions control, but those intentions are generously construed as to issues of 19 arbitrability." Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626 475 U.S. at 650, and "any doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in 22 favor of arbitration." Three Valleys Mun. Water Dist. v. E.F. Hutton & Co., 925 F.2d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 1991).
Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582 (1960)).
Information Sciences, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University, 489 U.S. State law is not entirely displaced from the federal arbitration analysis, however. Ticknor, 265 478-79. Thus, in determining whether parties have agreed to arbitrate a dispute, the court applies (1985). If a contract contains an arbitration clause, there is a presumption of arbitrability, AT & T,
Defendant moves to compel arbitration based upon the arbitration clause contained in § 10.6.2 of the parties' original Customer Agreement. The arbitration clause reads in full: arbitration in accordance with the then prevailing Commercial Arbitration Rules The parties shall submit any dispute arising under the Agreement that the parties cannot resolve by the procedure set forth in Section 10.6.1 to binding of the American Arbitration Association. Any arbitration shall take place in Los Angeles before one arbitrator who shall be experienced in the subject matter of the dispute. The arbitrator shall have no authority to award punitive damages or to treble or otherwise multiply actual damages. Judgment upon any award made in such an arbitration may be entered and enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction.
Rosenberg Decl. Ex. A § 10.6.2 (emphasis added). The parties do not dispute that the arbitration 5 clause was incorporated into the Amendment to the Customer Agreement that replaced the Elite Enterprise Software, for which Plaintiff originally contracted, with the Elite 3E Software that is the subject of this dispute. See Rosenberg Decl. Ex. B at 1 ("All terms and conditions of the Agreement shall remain in effect unless specifically modified by this Amendment."). H&C, however, opposes arbitration on two grounds. First, H&C argues that the arbitration clause is 10 narrow in scope and does not cover the claims raised in this lawsuit. Second, H&C claims that the agreement to arbitrate was fraudulently induced and is therefore unenforceable. The Court will consider each of these arguments in turn.
H&C's primary argument in opposition to the motion to compel is that the dispute presented in this action is not subject to the arbitration agreement. Relying on the Ninth Circuit's decision in Mediterranean Enterprises, Inc. v. Ssangyong Corp., 708 F.2d 1458 (9th Cir. 1983), H&C argues that the "arising under" language used by the parties creates a relatively narrow 18 arbitration clause that encompasses only disputes related to the interpretation of the contract and 19 matters of performance. H&C contends that the claims in this case are not limited to matters of 20 contract interpretation or performance because they turn on allegations that Thomson employed a "bait and switch" tactic that constituted fraud. While H&C concedes that it agreed to arbitrate disputes "arising out of the product and services Thomson agreed to provide," H&C claims that Action 6, ECF No. 12. As H&C describes it, "H&C agreed to purchase an orange, and agreed to 25 arbitrate claims '[arising] from' defects with the orange. Thomson delivered an apple." Id. In essence, H&C argues that it never agreed to arbitrate claims arising from defects with the "apple" that Thomson actually delivered, and therefore none of its claims fall within the scope of the arbitration clause.
A.Scope of the Arbitration Agreement
"Thomson never delivered that product." Opp'n to Mot. to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss Plaintiff is correct that where a contract mandates arbitration of disputes "arising under" or "arising out of" an agreement, without more, the Ninth Circuit has construed the scope of the 3 agreement to arbitrate relatively narrowly. See Tracer Research Corp. v. National Environmental Services Co., 42 F.3d 1292, 1295 (9th Cir. 1994); Mediterranean Enterprises, 708 F.2d at 1464. In Mediterranean Enterprises, the Ninth Circuit considered a clause that required arbitration of "[a]ny disputes arising hereunder," which the court considered synonymous with "arising under the Circuit found that the phrase "arising under" is "relatively narrow as arbitration clauses go." Id. at (S.D.N.Y. 1966)). The court found the omission of broader language, such as "relating to," to be significant and agreed with the Second Circuit that the language "arising under" restricts arbitration to disputes related to the interpretation and performance of the contract. Mediterranean Based on this analysis, the Ninth Circuit found that the district court had properly referred the plaintiff's breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims to arbitration, and properly refused to compel arbitration of the plaintiff's claims for quantum meruit, conversion, and conspiracy to induce breach of an entirely separate contract. Id. The Ninth Circuit reaffirmed this 18 analysis in Tracer, where it considered a clause that covered disputes "arising out of" an 19 agreement, but omitted reference to claims "relating to" an agreement. 42 F.3d at 1295. After determining that such language "is of the same limited scope as the 'arising under' language in Mediterranean Enterprises," the court held that the plaintiff's claim for misappropriation of trade secrets was not arbitrable. Id.
Agreement." 708 F.2d 1461, 1464. Relying on case law from the Second Circuit, the Ninth 1464 (quoting Sinva, Inc. v. Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 253 F. Supp. 359, 364 Enterprises, 708 F.2d at 1464 (citing In re Kinoshita & Co., 287 F.2d 951, 953 (2d Cir. 1961)).
Thomson makes two arguments in response to H&C's reliance on Mediterranean Enterprises. First, Thomson argues that Mediterranean Enterprises is inapplicable to the present 25 dispute because the parties chose to have the Customer Agreement governed by California law.
See Rosenberg Decl. Ex A § 10.5 ("This Agreement shall be construed and enforced in accordance 27 with the substantive laws of the State of California."). Thomson notes that a recent California Court of Appeal decision, relied upon heavily by H&C in its opposition, explicitly considered and rejected the Mediterranean Enterprises rule. See EFund Capital Partners v. Pless, 150 Cal. App. 4th 1311, 1329-30, 59 Cal. Rptr. 3d 340 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007). In EFund Capital Partners, the California Court of Appeal considered a clause that required arbitration of "[a]ny dispute or 4 disagreement arising from or out of" the contract. 150 Cal. App. 4th at 1317. Relying on Tracer 5 and Mediterranean Enterprises, the trial court had narrowly construed the arbitration clause and 6 denied the defendants' motion to compel arbitration of plaintiff's claims, which included tort 7 claims for fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation. Id. at 1317, 1319. After 8 providing a lengthy analysis of both California and federal appellate decisions, the California Court 9 of Appeal reversed the trial court and declined to follow the Ninth Circuit rule.*fn2 Id. at 1329. The 10 court found the Ninth Circuit rule to be "a distinctly minority rule" that "no longer finds support in 11 other federal courts," *fn3 California and federal policies requiring liberal construction of arbitration clauses. Id. at 1328-30. and appeared to consider the Ninth Circuit's analysis inconsistent with the
The California court thus concluded that "[u]nder California law, we cannot give arbitration 14 clauses the 'relatively narrow' construction described in Mediterranean Enterprises." Id. at 1330. 15
Thomson argues that because California law governs interpretation of the Customer Agreement, 16 this Court should follow EFund Capital Partners and decline to give the arbitration clause the 17 relatively narrow construction that Ninth Circuit case law may require.
arbitration agreement.*fn4 Although H&C claimed at the hearing that California law distinguishes 3 between broad and narrow arbitration clauses, and that California courts would construe this clause 4 narrowly, H&C has provided no case law to support this contention. Rather, under EFund Capital Partners and other California cases, it appears that the parties agreement to arbitrate "any dispute 6 arising under the Agreement,"Rosenberg Decl. Ex. A § 10.6.2 (emphasis added), is broad enough 7 to encompass tort claims that relate to the parties' contractual relationship, including claims of 8 fraud in the inducement. See, e.g., EFund Capital Partners, 150 Cal. App. 4th at 1330, 1317 At the motion hearing, both parties agreed that California law governs interpretation of the (agreement to arbitrate any dispute arising from or out of a contract encompasses tort claims, 10 including fraud in the inducement and negligent misrepresentation); id. at 1329 (noting that other circuits have broadly construed "arising under" language in arbitration provisions); Coast PlazaDoctors Hosp. v. Blue Cross of California, 83 Cal. App. 4th 677, 684, 99 Cal. Rptr. 2d 809 (Cal. 13 Because each of H&C's claims, whether based on contract or tort, directly relates to the parties' 2 contractual relationship, they are subject to arbitration under California law.
applies, and the arbitration clause is relatively narrowly
construed, H&C's claims are still subject to arbitration. The
Complaint presents claims for fraudulent performance of contract,
fraudulent inducement of contract, negligent misrepresentation,
breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranty, and
rescission. It is clear, as an initial matter, that H&C's claims of
breach of 8 contract, fraudulent performance, and breach of
warranty*fn5 directly involve matters of contract
interpretation and performance and are therefore arbitrable under
Mediterranean Enterprises and
Moreover, Thomson argues, and the Court agrees, that even if
Tracer. See Mediterranean Enterprises, 708 F.2d at 1464 (finding that
claims for breach ofcontract and breach of the fiduciary duty created by the contract
"clearly fall within the scope of 12 the arbitration clause"). H&C's
contention that it agreed to arbitrate claims arising from defects 13
with an orange, but Thomson delivered an apple, does not change this
analysis. If it did, then any 14 claim that a party provided goods
materially different from those promised would not be subject to 15
arbitration. Such an outcome would be inconsistent with the federal
policy favoring arbitration and 16 the Supreme Court's instruction
that the parties' intentions be "generously construed as to issues of
17 arbitrability." Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth,
Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626
H&C's claims for fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation,
present a somewhat closer question. Nonetheless, the Court finds
that these claims, particularly as articulated in H&C's Complaint,
are intimately related to the contract and its performance in a way
that distinguishes them from the kinds of claims that Ninth Circuit
has found not to be arbitrable.
The analysis in Tracer is instructive. There, the defendant had obtained certain information from 24 the plaintiff under the terms of a licensing agreement. Tracer,42 F.3d at 1293. After the licensing 25 agreement was terminated, the defendant continued to use this information, and the plaintiff sued 26 for misappropriation of trade secrets. Id. at 1293-94. In determining that plaintiff's misappropriation claim was not subject to arbitration, the Ninth Circuit noted that the issue 2 presented in the case was not whether the licensing agreement gave the defendant the right to use 3 plaintiff's trade secrets (which defendant had not argued), but whether the plaintiff possessed any 4 protectable trade secrets. Id. at 1295. The court acknowledged that "the tort claim would not have 5 arisen 'but for' the parties' licensing agreement," but found that this limited causal relationship was 6 not determinative. Id. Rather, unlike other claims found to be arbitrable, the trade secrets claim 7 did not require reference to the underlying agreement or interpretation of the parties' contractual 8 relationship. Id. Indeed, the claim, if proven, "would constitute an independent wrong from any 9 breach of the licensing and nondisclosure agreements" and would not affect any contractual 10 remedies. Id. Simply put, the trade secrets claim did not depend on, and did not affect, the actual 11 agreement between the parties or their performance of that agreement.
language covers claims that require reference to the underlying contract, interpretation of the 14 parties' agreement, or examination of performance under the contract, but not claims for wrongs 15 that are only indirectly related to the parties' contractual relationship. Neither case suggests that 16 tort claims are categorically excluded from "arising under" clauses, and neither case addresses 17 claims of fraud in the inducement, negligent misrepresentation during formation and performance, 18 or rescission. Looking to the specific facts pled in H&C's Complaint, the Court finds that the 19 allegations supporting these claims require examination of Thomson's performance under the 20 contract and reference to the promises made through the parties' contractual agreement. For 21 instance, H&C's claims for fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation are premised in 22 part on claims that Thomson misrepresented and concealed its "ability and intention to fulfill its 23 obligations to H&C" and continued to misrepresent its ability to implement and fix the 3E product 24 throughout its performance of the agreement. Compl. ¶¶ 31, 40. Similarly, H&C's claim for 25 rescission is premised on claims that Thomson misrepresented its ability to perform and provide 26 services to implement the 3E and CRM products, Compl. ¶ 58, and that "H&C did not intend or 27 agree to receive the products and services actually delivered." Compl. ¶ 63. These claims thus 28 require interpretation of the obligations Thomson owed H&C under the contract, the services Tracer and Mediterranean Enterprises suggest that "arising under" or "arising out of" Thomson agreed to perform under the contract, and the product and services H&C contracted to 2 receive. They also require examination of Thomson's conduct in performing its obligations under 3 the contract. Unlike the trade secret claim in Tracer, which could have been brought without 4 regard to any breach of the contractual agreement, here all of H&C's claims are inextricably bound 5 up with questions of contract interpretation, performance, and breach.
The Court does not believe that the Ninth Circuit intended district courts to construe "arising under" clauses so narrowly as to preclude arbitration of claims so closely related to the 8 contract itself and the parties' performance thereunder.*fn6 See Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assoc., Inc. v. Swift Transportation Co., 288 F. Supp. 2d 1033, 1036-37 (D. Ariz. 2003) (finding 10 that clause requiring arbitration of "[a]ny disagreement or litigation arising under this Contract" (finding that "arising under" language encompasses claims going to contract formation).
Resolving any ambiguity in favor of arbitration, as required, the Court thus finds that all of H&C's claims fall within the scope of the arbitration clause, regardless of whether Ninth Circuit or California law is applied.
H&C also argues that even if the arbitration clause covers its claims,
Thomson's motion to
compel arbitration should be denied because the arbitration clause
was fraudulently induced and is therefore unenforceable. The
Supreme Court has recognized that a party opposing arbitration may
raise two types of validity challenges: (1) a challenge specifically
to the validity of the agreement to arbitrate, and (2) a challenge
to the validity of the contract as a whole, such as a claim that the
agreement was fraudulently induced. Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v.
Jackson, 130 S.Ct. 2772, 2778
Rptr. 2d 875 (1996) (distinguishing between "fraud in inducing consent
specifically to the arbitration agreement" and "claims that the
contract as a whole was obtained through fraud in the
B.Enforceability of the Arbitration Agreement
(2010); see also Rosenthal v. Great Western Fin. Securities Corp., 14 Cal. 4th 394, 419, 58 Cal. inducement"). It is well-established that only the first type of challenge is relevant to the court's 2 determination of arbitrability, and thus a claim of fraud in the inducement of the contract as a 3 whole does not prevent a court from enforcing a specific agreement to arbitrate. Rent-A-Center, 130 S.Ct. at 2778. It is true that in some cases the fraud that induced the whole contract may have 5 equally induced the specific agreement to arbitration. Id. In such cases, however, the Supreme Court has "nonetheless require[d] the basis of challenge to be directed specifically to the agreement 7 to arbitrate before the court will intervene." Id. the arbitration clause, courts looks to the "crux of the complaint." See Buckeye Check Cashing,
In determining whether a challenge to validity or enforceability is directed specifically to Inc. v. Cardegna, 546 U.S. 440, 444 (2006). "[W]hen the crux of the complaint challenges the validity or enforceability of the agreement containing the arbitration provision, then the question of whether the agreement, as a whole, is unconscionable must be referred to the arbitrator. When the 13 crux of the complaint is not the invalidity of the contract as a whole, but rather the arbitration provision itself, then the federal courts must decide whether the arbitration provision is invalid and 15 unenforceable under 9 U.S.C. § of the FAA." Nagrampa v. MailCoups, Inc., 469 F.3d 1257, 1263-64 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc) (citations omitted). In its opposition brief, H&C argues that the 17 same fraud that induced it to enter into the Customer Agreement and Amendment also induced it to 18 agree to arbitrate claims arising under the agreements. That is, if H&C had known that the 3E 19 product was untested and unworkable, it would neither have entered into the contract as a whole, 20 nor agreed to arbitrate claims based on the 3E software. The crux of H&C's Complaint, however, 21 suggests that H&C's challenge is directed at the contract as a whole and not specifically to the 22 arbitration agreement. The Complaint is focused on allegations that Thomson made 23 misrepresentations that induced H&C to enter into an agreement to purchase the Elite software, to 24 later switch from that software to the 3E product, and to make payments throughout a prolonged 25 implementation process. Compl. ¶¶ 15, 17, 24, 32. The Complaint also alleges that if H&C had 26 known the true facts, it would never have entered into the agreement to purchase Elite and then to 27 switch to 3E. Compl. ¶ 33, 42, 63. Importantly, however, the Complaint does not allege that Thomson's misrepresentations induced H&C to agree to arbitrate claims, nor does it allege that if H&C had known the true facts, it would not have agreed to the arbitration clause. Indeed, the Court has found no mention of the agreement to arbitrate anywhere in the Complaint. The 3 declaration submitted by H&C's Executive Director likewise does not mention the arbitration 4 agreement. See Decl. of Arthur P. Bernstein in Supp. of Opp'n to Mot. to Compel Arbitration, ECF No. 13. It thus appears that H&C's claim of fraudulent inducement is directed solely to the 6 contract as a whole and not specifically to the agreement to arbitrate. Accordingly, under well-7 established Supreme Court precedent, H&C's fraud claims are subject to arbitration.*fn7
arbitration, and Thomson's motion to compel arbitration should be granted. Where an arbitration
C.Stay v. Dismissal
Based on the above analysis, the Court finds that all of H&C's claims are subject to clause is broad enough to cover all of a plaintiff's claims, the court may compel arbitration and dismiss the action. Sparling v. Hoffman Const. Co., 864 F.2d 635, 638 (9th Cir. 1988); see also (compelling arbitration and dismissing case); Underwriters Reinsurance Co. v. Ace American Ins.
However, H&C asks the Court to stay, rather than dismiss, the case. At the motion hearing, H&C 17 expressed concern that it may face statute of limitations problems if the case is dismissed, and the 18 arbitrator later determines that certain claims should be heard by the court. Thomson indicated that 19 it would be willing to address this concern by stipulating to a dismissal without prejudice that 20
Thomson is "permeated" by fraud, and that under California law such a contract is void and nonarbitrable. In Rosenthal, the California Supreme Court rejected the "permeation doctrine" referred 22 to by H&C and held that claims that the contract as a whole was obtained through fraud are subject to arbitration, including "claims of a 'grand scheme' of fraud, or fraud 'permeating' the 23 transaction." Rosenthal, 14 Cal. 4th at 419. H&C is correct that claims that a contract is void due to fraud in the execution or inception must be decided by the court. Id. However, fraud in the 24 execution is limited to claims that "fraud goes to the inception or execution of the agreement, so that the promisor is deceived as to the nature of his act, and actually does not know what he is 25 signing, or does not intend to enter into a contract at all." Id. at 415 (quoting Ford v. Shearson Lehman American Express, Inc., 180 Cal. App. 3d 1011, 1028, 225 Cal. Rptr. 895 (1986)). H&C's 26 complaint is squarely grounded in claims of fraud in the inducement, rather than fraud in the inception. H&C clearly intended to enter into an agreement with Thomson and understood the 27 nature of that agreement. Thus, this is a case where "the promisor knows what he is signing but his consent is induced by fraud." Rosenthal, 14 Cal. 4th at 419. Under Rosenthal, such claims of 28 fraud in the inducement are subject to arbitration, even if the entire transaction was permeated by fraud.
Dittenhafer v. Citigroup, No. C 10-1779 PJH, 2010 WL 3063127, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 2, 2010) Co., No. CV0208177CASJTLX, 2003 WL 24011931, at *7-8 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 10, 2003) (same).
provides for tolling of the statute of limitations if the arbitrator determines that some or all of
For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to compel arbitration.
The parties shall file, no later than April 21, 2011, a stipulation dismissing the case without 9 prejudice and providing for tolling of the statute of limitations.
IT IS SO ORDERED.