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Hidalgo v. Tesla Motors, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

June 29, 2016

WALTER HIDALGO, Plaintiff,
v.
TESLA MOTORS, INC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY LITIGATION [Re: ECF 16]

          BETH LABSON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Tesla Motors, Inc. moves to compel arbitration of Plaintiff Walter Hidalgo’s claims and stay this litigation while arbitration is in process. See Mot. at 7, ECF 16. Because the arbitration agreement between Tesla and Hidalgo is valid and encompasses the claims raised in Hidalgo’s lawsuit, Tesla’s motion is GRANTED.

         I.BACKGROUND

         In November 2012, Tesla extended Hidalgo an offer of employment. See Copher Decl. Ex. A, ECF 16-2. Tesla employee John Pardo emailed Hidalgo his formal offer letter, which was a four-page PDF document attached to Pardo’s email. See Petry Decl. ¶ 2, ECF 19-1. Page two of the offer letter states,

To ensure the rapid and economical resolution of disputes that may arise in connection with your employment with Tesla, you and Tesla agree that any and all disputes, claims, or causes of action, in law or equity, arising from or relating to your employment, or the termination of your employment, will be resolved, to the fullest extent permitted by law by binding arbitration per Attachment A, and that you are waiving your right to a jury trial.

Petry Decl. Ex. A at 5, ECF 19-2 (emphasis original). Page three of the offer letter contains signature and date lines for Hidalgo to indicate his acceptance of the letter. See Id. at 6. Page four of the PDF is titled “ARBITRATION AGREEMENT” and sets forth the terms of the arbitration agreement. See Id. at 7. In relevant part, the arbitration agreement states,

[Y]ou and Tesla agree to an arbitration in which:
a. you are waiving any and all rights to a jury trial but all court remedies will be available in arbitration; and
b. all disputes between you and the Company shall be fully and finally resolved by binding arbitration that provides for adequate discovery; and
c. all disputes shall be resolved by a neutral arbitrator who shall issue a written opinion; and
d. Tesla shall pay all arbitration fees in excess of those which would be required if the dispute was filed in a court of law.
Nothing in this Agreement is intended to prevent either you or Tesla from obtaining injunctive relief in court . . . .

Id. (emphasis original). After receiving the offer letter, Hidalgo signed and dated the letter on page three and emailed the first three pages of the offer letter back to Pardo, but not the fourth. See Hidalgo Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. A, ECF 18-2.

         The parties agree that Hidalgo received at least the first three pages of the offer letter in Pardo’s email, but disagree as to whether he received the fourth page. See Opp. at 2, ECF 18; Reply at 2, ECF 19. In his declaration supporting his opposition to Tesla’s motion, Hidalgo originally stated that he “never received the last page (page four) of the employment agreement . . . entitled ‘Attachment A - Arbitration Agreement.’” Hidalgo Decl. ¶ 3. He also stated that he “did not know at any time that any dispute [he] had with Tesla would be arbitrated, ” and that although he “now see[s] a small paragraph on page two of the employment offer, however, [he] did not see that when [he] signed the offer letter and neither [his] signature nor [his] initials are anywhere near that paragraph. Most importantly, [he] never received the Attachment A that paragraph is referencing.” Id. ¶ 6. In response, Tesla submitted a reply declaration from Jeff Petry, Senior Information Security Engineer at Tesla, which stated that Petry had retrieved Pardo’s original email to Hidalgo and its attachment from an Enterprise Vault email archive. See Petry Decl. ¶¶ 1-3. The attachment contains all four pages of the offer letter, including the arbitration agreement on page four. See Petry Decl. Ex. A. Hidalgo then amended his declaration to state, “I do not recall receiving the last page (page four) of the employment agreement . . . ...


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