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Tijerina v. Caliber Holdings Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 25, 2019





         Pending before the Court is Defendant Caliber Holdings Corporation’s (“Defendant”) motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the case (“Motion”). See Doc. No. 7. Plaintiff Kalin Tijerina filed responses in opposition. See Doc. Nos. 11, 12. The Motion is fully briefed. After careful consideration of the pleadings filed by both parties, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s Motion.


         On June 28, 2019, this case was removed to this Court from Superior Court of California San Diego County. See Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant “misclassified Plaintiff as an exempt employee, failed to pay Plaintiff overtime wages, failed to provide her with meal and rest periods, failed to provide her with accurate itemized wage statements, and failed to pay all wages when her employment was terminated.” Doc. No. 1 at pg. 3. Plaintiff asserts six causes of action for Defendant’s alleged violations of California state law and asserts that this Court has diversity jurisdiction over the case. See Doc. No. 1. Defendant filed an answer to the complaint on June 28, 2019. See Doc. No. 2. On August 9, 2019, Defendant filed the Motion. See Doc. No. 7. Plaintiff filed responses in opposition on September 3, 2019 and September 6, 2019. See Doc. Nos. 11, 12. Defendant filed a reply on September 9, 2019. On September 9, 2019, this Court issued an Order vacating the hearing date and taking the Motion under submission. See Doc. No. 14.


         I. Legal Standard

         The Federal Arbitration Act governs the question of arbitrability. See 9. U.S.C. § 4. Arbitration is a matter of contract and courts cannot require a party to arbitrate unless that party has agreed to do so. United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf, 363 U.S. 574, 582 (1960). Doubts as to whether the arbitration clause covers the dispute at issue should be resolved in favor of coverage. Id. at 582-83. Clauses requiring arbitration of claims “arising out of or relating to” a contract are considered broad. Prima Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 395, 398 (1967). The preference for arbitration is particularly strong when the arbitration clause is broad. AT&T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America, 475 U.S. 643, 650 (1986). The FAA “leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a district court, but instead mandates that district courts shall direct the parties to proceed to arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement has been signed.” Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218, 105 S.Ct. 1238, 84 L.Ed.2d 158 (1985). As such, there is a liberal policy favoring arbitration. See Moses H. Cone Memorial Hosp. v. Mercury Const. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 103 S.Ct. 927, 74 L.Ed.2d 765 (1983). A court interpreting an arbitration clause applies state law principles of contract interpretation and must give “due regard…to the federal policy favoring arbitration, and ambiguities as to the scope of the arbitration clause itself resolved in favor of arbitration.” Volt Information Sciences, Inc. v. Board Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University, 489 U.S. 468, 475-76 (1989) (internal citation omitted)."

         II. Analysis

         In its Motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff voluntarily agreed to arbitrate any potential claims against Defendant when Plaintiff initialed the arbitration provision and signed the employment document on December 15, 2000. Doc. No. 7-1 at pgs. 6-7. Defendant asserts that the arbitration provision states, in its entirety:

“I hereby agree to submit to binding arbitration all disputes and claims arising out of the submission of this application. I further agree, in the event that I am hired by the company, that all disputes that cannot be resolved by informal internal resolution which might arise out of my employment with the company, whether during or after that employment, will be submitted to binding arbitration. I agree that such arbitration shall be conducted under the rules of the American Arbitration Association. This application contains the entire agreement between parties with regard to dispute resolution, and there are no other agreements as to dispute resolution, either written or oral.”


         Defendant argues that this arbitration agreement is fair and enforceable; that Plaintiff’s claims are subject to this agreement; and that Plaintiff knowingly breached the arbitration agreement by refusing to arbitrate her claims. Id. at pgs. 6-8. Defendant contends that the arbitration agreement is valid, and there is no reason to revoke this agreement. Id. at pgs. 10-15. Defendant asserts that the arbitration agreement is not procedurally or substantively unconscionable. Id. at pgs. 15-18.

         In response, Plaintiff asserts that the arbitration agreement was rescinded by the Receipt of Associate Guidebook (the “Acknowledgment”). Doc. No. 11 at pgs. 8-11. Plaintiff cites the pertinent language of the Acknowledgement of Receipt: “It supersedes all prior agreements, understanding and representations concerning [Plaintiff’s] employment with the Company.” Id. at pg. 8. Plaintiff argues that the arbitration agreement is illusory because Defendant had unfettered discretion to alter the agreement. Id. at pgs. 11-13. Plaintiff also argues that the ...

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