United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL
ARBITRATION, DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS, OR IN THE
ALTERNATIVE STAY THE ACTION; WITHOUT PREJUDICE [RE: ECF
LAB SON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration,
Dismiss Plaintiff's Claims, or in the Alternative, Stay
Judicial Proceedings (“Motion”). Motion, ECF 13.
The Court heard oral argument on the Motion on June 20, 2019
(“the Hearing”). For the reasons below and as
stated on the record at the Hearing, Defendants' Motion
is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
years, Plaintiff Alfredo Villasenor was the Executive
Director of Defendant Community Child Care Council of Santa
Clara County, Inc. (“the 4Cs”). Compl.
¶¶ 1-2, 12, ECF 1. The 4Cs has two employee benefit
plans at issue in this case: (1) the 4Cs Employee Profit
Sharing Plan (the “Qualified Retirement Plan”);
and (2) the 4Cs Non-Qualified Pension Plan (the
“Supplemental Plan”) (collectively, the
“4Cs Plans”). See Id. ¶¶ 3-4.
Plaintiff alleges that the 4Cs is the
“administrator” and “plan sponsor” of
the 4Cs Plans as defined by the Employee Retirement Income
Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), and that the 4Cs
is authorized and has the duty to administer the 4Cs Plans
for the benefit of the participants and beneficiaries of the
plans. See Compl. ¶¶ 5-6. Plaintiff
alleges that as an employee of the 4Cs he was eligible for
and a participant in the 4Cs Plans. Id. ¶ 13.
retired from the 4Cs on or about August 4, 2017. Compl.
¶ 15. However, on August 7, 2017, Plaintiff and the 4Cs
entered into a written consulting agreement
(“Consulting Agreement”), and Plaintiff began
working for the 4Cs as a consultant. See Id.
¶¶ 20-21; see also Consulting Agreement,
Ex. 1 to Compl., ECF 1-1. On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff
requested processing of his claims for retirement benefits
under the 4Cs Plans. See Compl. ¶ 23. On March
27, 2018, Plaintiff submitted an invoice in the amount of
$73, 342.50 for his purported work as a consultant for the
4Cs. Id. ¶ 30.
alleges that the 4Cs and 4Cs Plans have failed to pay
retirement benefits to which he is entitled, and that the 4Cs
has failed to pay the invoice submitted for his work as a
consultant. See Compl. ¶¶ 31, 37. On
October 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action against the 4Cs
and the 4Cs Plans (collectively, “Defendants”),
asserting three causes of action:
(1) Recovery of Plan Benefits under ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §
1132(a)(1)(B) (against all Defendants);
(2) Breach of Contract (the Consulting Agreement) (against
the 4Cs); and
(3) Wage Statute Violations (pertaining to the Consulting
Agreement) under Cal. Labor Code §§ 203 & 218.5
(against the 4Cs).
See generally Compl.
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) applies to
arbitration agreements affecting interstate commerce. 9
U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. When it applies, the
FAA preempts state laws that conflict with its provisions or
obstruct its objective to enforce valid arbitration
agreements. See AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion,
563 U.S. 333, 339, 341-43 (2011). Although section four of
the FAA provides for the filing of a motion to compel
arbitration, courts have held that a motion to dismiss under
Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
“is a procedurally sufficient mechanism to enforce [an]
[a]rbitration [p]rovision.” GT Sec., Inc. v.
Klastech GmbH, Case No. 13-cv-3090-JCS, 2014 WL 2928013,
at *17 (N.D. Cal. June 27, 2014).
reflects a strong policy in favor of arbitration.
Concepcion, 563 U.S. at 339; Ericksen,
Arbuthnot, McCarthy, Kearney & Walsh, Inc. v. 100 Oak
Street, 35 Cal. 3D 312, 322 (1983). Under the FAA,
contractual arbitration agreements must be enforced
“save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity
for the revocation of any contract.” Newton v. Am.
Debt Servs., Inc., 549 Fed. App'x. 692, 693 (9th
Cir. 2013) (quoting 9 U.S.C. § 2). “In line with
these principles, courts must place arbitration agreements on
an equal footing with other contracts, and enforce them
according to their terms.” Concepcion, 563
U.S. at 339 (internal citations omitted); Weeks v.
Crow, 113 Cal.App.3d 350, 353 (1980) (“The court
should attempt to give effect to the parties' intentions,
in light of the usual and ordinary meaning of the contractual
language and the circumstances under which the agreement was
made.” (citation omitted)). “[W]here a contract
contains an arbitration clause, ” moreover,
“courts apply a presumption in favor of arbitrability .
. . and the party resisting arbitration bears the burden of
establishing that the arbitration agreement is
inapplicable.” Wynn Resorts v. Atl.-Pac. Capital,
Inc., 497 Fed. App'x. 740, 742 (9th Cir. 2012).