United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION RE: DKT.
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendants' motion to compel
arbitration. Dkt. No. 20. For the reasons articulated below,
the Court GRANTS the motion.
Christopher Fontana filed this action on August 26, 2016, in
Sonoma County Superior Court claiming that his former
employer did not pay him his severance package. See
Dkt. No. 1. Defendants Del Monte Capitol Meat Company, LLC
and The Chef's Warehouse West Coast, LLC removed the case
to federal court on November 9, 2016. Id.
to Plaintiff, he began working for Del Monte in 1996. Dkt.
No. 1, Ex. A ¶ 6 (“Compl.”). The Chef's
Warehouse acquired Del Monte in 2015. See Id .
¶ 8. As part of Plaintiff's ongoing employment with
them, he signed the Del Monte Arbitration Agreement
(“Arbitration Agreement”) in March 2015. Dkt. No.
20-2, Ex. A; see also Compl. ¶ 7. Paragraph 2
[A]ll disputes . . . that may have arisen prior to, during or
after the date of execution of this Agreement shall be
subject to resolution only through final and binding
arbitration with the American Arbitration Association
(“AAA”) . . . . The claims covered by this
Agreement include, but are not limited to, any and all
controversies, claims, or disputes between the Company and
Employee arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the
terms and conditions of Employee's employment with the
Company or the termination of the Employee's employment
with the Company . . . .
Dkt. No. 20-2, Ex. A ¶ 2. Both Plaintiff and Del
Monte's Human Resources manager signed the Arbitration
Agreement. Id. at 3.
2016, Defendants terminated Plaintiff and offered him a
Confidential Settlement and General Release (“Severance
Agreement”). Compl. ¶ 9; see also Compl.,
Ex. 1 (copy of partially executed agreement). Plaintiff
attempted to re-negotiate and requested additional
compensation. Compl. ¶ 11. Defendants refused and said
the as-is offer would expire on May 27, 2016. Id.
¶ 12. Plaintiff signed the Severance Agreement and
returned it to Defendants. Id.; see also
Dkt. No. 23 at 2. On May 27, Defendants' Chief Human
Resources Officer acknowledged that she had received it and
would send a check by June 2. Compl. ¶ 14. Instead,
Defendants never signed the agreement and e-mailed Plaintiff
on June 1 to say that they were rescinding the Severance
Agreement. Id. ¶ 15; see also Compl.,
Ex. 1 (Severance Agreement).
Severance Agreement does not contain an arbitration clause.
Instead it includes a severability clause if “a court
of competent jurisdiction” determines that “any
term or provision of this Agreement is . . . void or invalid
at law.” Compl., Ex. 1 ¶ 16. It also contains an
integration clause: “[T]he terms and conditions of this
Agreement cancel and supersede any prior agreements,
promises, representations or understandings that may have
existed between Fontana and Del Monte with respect to all
matters covered by this Agreement [with the exception of any
prior confidentiality agreements].” Id. ¶
12. Plaintiff argues that this dispute is governed by the
Severance Agreement and the severability clause permits the
Court to adjudicate the dispute. Defendants filed the pending
motion to compel arbitration pursuant to the Arbitration
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides that
“[a] written provision in . . . a contract evidencing a
transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a
controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or
transaction, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part
thereof, or an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration
an existing controversy arising out of such a contract,
transaction, or refusal, 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.
party seeking arbitration establishes that (1) the parties
agreed to arbitrate and (2) the scope of that agreement to
arbitrate encompasses the claims at issue, a court must
compel arbitration. Chiron Corp. v. Ortho Diagnostic
Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). In such
cases, the party opposing arbitration bears the burden of
establishing a defense to the agreement's enforcement by
a preponderance of the evidence. Rosenthal v. Great
Western Fin. Securities Corp., 14 Cal.4th 394, 413
(1996). “The standard for demonstrating arbitrability
is not a high one; in fact, a district court has little
discretion to deny an arbitration motion, since the [FAA] is
phrased in mandatory terms.” Republic of Nicar. v.
Std. Fruit Co., 937 F.2d 469, 475 (9th Cir. 1991).
Furthermore, “any doubts concerning the scope of
arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of
arbitration.” Simula, Inc. v. Autoliv, Inc.,
175 F.3d 716, 719 (9th Cir. 1999) (quotation omitted).
said, “arbitration is a matter of contract and a party
cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which
he has not agreed so to submit.” AT & T Techs.,
Inc. v. Commc'ns Workers of Am., 475 U.S. 643, 648
(1986) (quotation omitted). To determine whether a valid and
enforceable agreement to arbitrate has been established,
courts “should apply ordinary state-law principles that
govern the formation of contracts” to decide whether
the parties agreed to arbitrate a certain matter. First
Options of Chi., Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944
Section 3 of the FAA, “a party may apply to a federal
court for a stay of the trial of an action upon any issue
referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for
such arbitration.” Rent-A-Center, West, Inc. v.
Jackson, 561 U.S. 63, 68 (2010) (quotation omitted). If
all of the claims in the litigation are subject to a valid
arbitration agreement, the ...