United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CERTIFY FOR
INTERLOCUTORY APPEAL RE: DKT. NO. 64
M. CHESNEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is plaintiff Yolanda Champion's
("Champion") "Motion to Amend June 21, 2019,
Order to Certify the Same for Interlocutory Appeal Pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. sec 1292(b)," filed July 19, 2019.
Defendant Amazon Logistics, Inc. ("Amazon") has
filed opposition, to which Champion has replied. Having read
and considered the papers filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion, the Court rules as
was formerly employed by defendant NEA Delivery, LLC
("NEA"), and was assigned by NEA to work as a
delivery driver for Amazon. Champion alleges she was jointly
employed by both NEA and Amazon and that, during such
employment, she was not provided with meal and rest periods
or with proper wages.
10, 2019, Amazon filed, under the Federal Arbitration Act
("FAA"), a motion to compel arbitration of
Champion's claims, relying on a contract between NEA and
Champion, titled "Binding Arbitration Agreement"
(hereinafter, "Agreement") under which Champion
agreed to arbitrate any claims "that may arise out of
the employment context." (See Nyhan Decl.,
filed May 10, 2019, Ex. A.) On June 21, 2019, the Court held
a hearing and, at the conclusion thereof, granted the motion
and stayed the action, to the extent alleged against Amazon,
pending completion of arbitration proceedings.That same date,
the Court issued a written order incorporating the
granting the motion, the Court found: (1) Champion had
entered into the Agreement, (2) the Agreement was not
unconscionable, (3) Amazon, although not a party to the
Agreement, could rely thereon to compel arbitration, and (4)
a statutory exemption from enforcement of the Agreement did
not apply. By the instant motion, Champion requests the Court
amend the June 21 order to certify, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1292(b), that the fourth of the above-referenced
findings is appropriate for interlocutory appeal.
§ 1292(b), a district court may certify for
interlocutory appeal an order where (1) "such order
involves a controlling question of law," (2) "there
is substantial ground for difference of opinion" as to
such question of law, and (3) "an immediate appeal from
the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of
the litigation." See 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).
The Court discusses each such factor in turn.
§ 2 of the FAA, a party may seek to enforce "[a]
written provision in any . . . contract evidencing a
transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a
controversy." See 9 U.S.C. § 2. Pursuant
to § 1, however, an exemption exists for "contracts
of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other
class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate
commerce." See 9 U.S.C. § 1. The term
"any other class of workers" has been interpreted
to mean "transportation workers," see Circuit
City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105, 119 (2001).
Courts have found "contracts of employment" of
"transportation workers" are contracts of
"workers in the transportation industry." See
Hill v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 398 F.3d 1286, 1290 (11th
Cir. 2005) (citing cases).
the Court found the exemption set forth in § 1 did not
apply to the Agreement, which ruling involves a controlling
question of law. See Kuehner v. Dickinson &
Co., 84 F.3d 316, 319 (9th Cir. 1996) (holding order
staying action pending completion of arbitration proceedings
"involve[s] a controlling question on law").
in determining whether the exemption in § 1 applied, the
Court found the relevant contract is the Agreement between
NEA and Champion, the only contract that contains a
"written provision" to arbitrate, see 9
U.S.C. § 2, and Champion has not argued, let alone
offered evidence to show, NEA is in the interstate
transportation industry. See Performance Team Freight
Systems, Inc. v. Aleman, 241 Cal.App.4th 1233, 1241
(2015) (holding "party opposing arbitration bears the
burden of demonstrating that the [§ 1] exemption
applies"). The Court also found, without dispute by
Champion, said contract could be invoked by Amazon to compel
arbitration, as Champion's claims against NEA and
Champion are "based on the same facts and are inherently
inseparable from the arbitrable claims against [the]
signatory defendant[ ]." See Garcia v. Pexco,
LLC, 11 Cal.App. 5th 782, 787-788 (2017) (finding
non-signatory customer of temporary staffing agency entitled
to compel arbitration, based on clause in contract between
plaintiff and staffing agency).
Court further found that, even if, as Champion argues, the
nature of Amazon's business can be considered for
purposes of § 1, despite the absence of an arbitration
agreement in what Champion asserts is an implied contract
between Amazon and Champion, the exemption set forth in
§ 1 was inapplicable, as Amazon is not engaged in the
transportation industry. With regard to such finding, a
difference of opinion exists. See Rittman v. Amazon.com,
Inc., 2019 WL 177725, at *1, *4 (W.D. Wash. April 23,
2019) (finding, in case involving arbitration provision in
written contract of employment between Amazon and plaintiff
therein, § 1 exemption applicable). Based on the record
presented here, the Court did not agree with another district
court's characterization of Amazon as "akin to UPS
and FedEx," see id., 2019 WL 177725, at *3, but
rather, found Amazon is primarily engaged in the sale of
merchandise, both its own products and, in some instances,
those of others, and, in connection therewith, provides
efficient delivery as a service to customers. In essence, the
Court found Amazon is more closely akin to an online version
of Walmart than an online version of Federal Express.
as one court has noted, although an appeal may "take
more time and effort than arbitration . . .[, ] an appeal
will still conclude more quickly than requiring arbitration
to run its course before the appeal begins." See Lee
v. Postmates Inc., 2019 WL 1864442, at *4 (N.D. Cal.
April 25, 2019).
the Court having found each factor set forth in §
1292(b) is met, Champion's motion is hereby GRANTED, and,
by separate order filed concurrently herewith, the
Court's order compelling arbitration has been amended to
reflect such finding.