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Ambler v. BT Ams., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

August 15, 2013

LYNN ELVIN AMBLER, Plaintiff,
v.
BT AMERICAS INC. AND DOES 1 THROUGH 10, INCLUSIVE, Defendants

Page 1170

For Lynn Elvin Ambler, Plaintiff: Stephan Eric Kyle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Conor Daniel Granahan, Kyle Law Corporation, San Francisco, CA.

For BT Americas Inc., Defendant: Steven R. Blackburn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andrew Jonathon Sommer, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., San Francisco, CA.

OPINION

EDWARD J. DAVILA, United States District Judge.

Page 1171

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY PROCEEDINGS; DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [Re: Docket No. 23]

Presently before the court in this age discrimination and wrongful termination action is Defendant BT Americas Inc.'s (" Defendant" ) Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss, or in the alternative, Stay Proceedings. Dkt. No. 23. The

Page 1172

court found this matter suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b) and previously vacated the hearing. The court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Having fully reviewed the parties' briefing, and for the following reasons, the court GRANTS Defendant's Motion.

I. Background

Plaintiff Lynn Elvin Ambler (" Plaintiff" ) filed the instant action on September 21, 2012 in the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County, raising claims against Defendant, his former employer, for: (1) unlawful discrimination based on age; (2) failure to prevent discrimination; (3) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (4) breach of contract; (5) breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (6) intentional misrepresentation; (7) negligent misrepresentation; (8) wages wrongfully withheld; and (9) intentional infliction of emotional distress. See Declaration of Harold M. Brody ISO Notice of Removal Ex. A, Dkt. No. 2-1. On October 25, 2012, Defendant removed the action to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. See Dkt. No. 1.

On June 7, 2013, Defendant filed the instant Motion to Compel Arbitration. See Dkt. No. 23. Defendant seeks to compel arbitration on the basis of an arbitration provision in a Confidential Information and Invention Assignment Agreement (the " Agreement" ) that Plaintiff signed with a predecessor company to Defendant--International Network Services (" INS" )--at the beginning of his employment with INS in January 1995. See Dkt. No. 23-2 ¶ 6. Over the course of Plaintiff's sixteen years' employment, his employer changed hands at least three times, ultimately becoming fully integrated into Defendant's business. In 1999, Lucent Technologies acquired INS and operated it as a division of Lucent until 2002. Dkt. No. 23-2 ¶ 9. In 2002, senior INS management, including Plaintiff, negotiated and completed a purchase and spinout of the INS business from Lucent. Id. at ¶ 10. From that point until 2007, the company again operated under the name INS. See Dkt. No. 23-2 at ¶ ¶ 10-12. In early 2007, Defendant acquired this new INS. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff remained employed with Defendant until his termination on April 29, 2011. Id. at ¶ 6. To the best of the court's knowledge, INS remains integrated into Defendant today. See Dkt. No. 23-2 ¶ 13.

a. The Agreement

Plaintiff executed the Agreement as a condition of his original employment with INS on January 7, 1995. See Declaration of Jamie Newell ISO Def. Mtn to Compel Arb. (" Newell Decl.) Ex. A, Dkt. No. 23-4. The Agreement is a four-page document that governs topics such as the nature of Plaintiff's employment, the handling of confidential information, ownership of inventions and other intellectual property issues, rights and obligations in the event Plaintiff leaves INS, and dispute resolution procedures. Id. Particularly relevant to this motion, the Agreement contains the following provisions:

At-Will Employment - I understand and acknowledge that this Agreement is not an employment agreement, and that my employment with the Company is for an unspecified duration and constitutes 'at-will' employment. I acknowledge that nothing in this Agreement gives me any right to continued employment, and that my employment relationship with the Company may be terminated at any time, with or without good cause or for ...

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