United States District Court, S.D. California
THE ESTATE OF ALEIDA ARCE, by and through its Successor in Interest, MARIA HERNANDEZ HUERTA, et al., Plaintiffs,
PANISH SHEA & BOYLE LLP, Defendant.
ORDER: (1) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL
ARBITRATION (DOC. NO. 6); AND (2) DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AS MOOT (DOC. NO. 5)
Anthony J. Battaglia, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendant Panish Shea & Boyle
LLP's (“Defendant”) motion to compel
arbitration, (Doc. No. 6) and motion to dismiss for failure
to state a claim, or in the alternative, motion to strike
punitive damages from Plaintiffs' complaint, (Doc. No.
5). The motions were fully briefed on May 22, 2019. Having
reviewed the parties' arguments and controlling legal
authority, and pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1, the
Court finds the matter suitable for decision on the papers
and without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to
compel arbitration and DENIES AS MOOT
Defendant's motion to dismiss. Furthermore, the Court
STAYS these proceedings pending the outcome
of any arbitration.
case involves claims for legal malpractice against Defendant
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, a personal injury law firm
located in Los Angeles, California. (Doc. No. 1-2, Complaint
“Compl.” ¶ 1.)
February 3, 2013, Plaintiff Victoria Arce and her mother,
Aleida Arce (“Decedent”) were traveling on a tour
bus on California State Route 38 near Yucaipa, California.
(Id. at ¶ 2.) The tour bus was owned and
operated by Interbus Tours and Charter and Scapadas Magicas,
LLC. (Id.) On the last leg of the trip, the bus
driver lost control of the bus, careened into other vehicles,
crossed the center divider, collided with an oncoming truck,
before rolling over and coming to a rest in the middle of the
roadway. (Id.) During the accident, passengers were
ejected from the bus. (Id.) Decedent suffered fatal
blunt force injuries. Plaintiff Victoria Arce suffered blunt
force trauma to her head and sustained severe injuries.
pursued and settled a case in state court on Plaintiffs'
behalf. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Plaintiffs' case in
state court included causes of action for wrongful death, a
survival action, and a personal injury claim by Plaintiff
Victoria Arce. (Id.) After settlement of the state
court case, Plaintiffs filed another separate lawsuit,
alleging that Defendant failed to file, pursue, or settle a
case in federal court on Plaintiffs' behalf.
(Id. at ¶ 4.) Specifically, Plaintiffs assert
two causes of action for professional negligence and for
breach of fiduciary duty. Plaintiffs contend that a federal
case should have been filed because the bus was regulated,
overseen, inspected, and certified by the United States
Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (“FMCSA”). (Id.)
Plaintiffs claim FMCSA failed to properly inspect the bus,
and issued a satisfactory rating to the bus in violation of
its duties and procedures. (Id.) Instead of pursuing
a claim in federal court, Plaintiffs allege Defendant allowed
the statute of limitations on the federal claim to run, even
though the attorneys considered the claim, and knew that at
least one other lawyer representing another passenger in the
accident was pursuing such a federal claim. (Id. at
filed their legal malpractice action in San Diego Superior
Court on January 15, 2019. (Compl.) Defendants removed to
this Court on March 15, 2019. (Doc. No. 1.) On April 3, 2019,
Defendant filed: (1) a motion to dismiss for failure to state
a claim, or in the alternative, motion to strike punitive
damages from Plaintiffs' complaint (Doc. No. 5), and (2)
a motion to compel arbitration (Doc. No. 6.) The motions were
fully briefed on May 22, 2019. This order follows.
REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE
Rule of Evidence 201 states that a “court may
judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable
dispute because it: (1) is generally known within the trial
court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be
accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy
cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b).
Courts routinely take judicial notice of documents filed on
public court dockets under Rule 201(b). See Porter v.
Ollison, 620 F.3d 952, 954-55 n.1 (9th Cir. 2010)
(“Judicial notice is taken of court dockets in the
state court proceedings.”); Qualcomm, Inc. v.
Motorola, Inc., 185 F.R.D. 285, 286 nn.2-3 (S.D. Cal.
1999). A court has authority to take judicial notice that
certain proceedings occurred, but a court may not take
“judicial notice of disputed facts stated in public
records.” Perdue v. Rodney Corp., No.
13CV2712-GPC BGS, 2014 WL 3726700, at *4 (S.D. Cal. July 25,
requests the Court take judicial notice of documents filed in
the previous state court litigation. (Doc. No. 14-1.)
Defendant requests judicial notice of two documents-an
Amended Petition for Compromise of Plaintiff Victoria Arce,
and an Amended Order Approving Compromise of Minor, both
filed in the state court matter, Morales et al. v
Scapadas Magicas et al., San Bernardino Superior Court,
Case No. CIVDS1301868. Because these documents are part of
the state court docket, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's request to take judicial notice of both
documents. See Porter, 620 F.3d at 954-55 n.1.
Motion to Compel Arbitration
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) governs the
enforcement of arbitration agreements involving interstate
commerce. See 9 U.S.C. § 2. Pursuant to §
2 of the FAA, an arbitration agreement is “valid,
irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist
at law or in equity for the revocation of any
contract.” Id. The FAA permits “[a]
party aggrieved by the alleged failure, neglect, or refusal
of another to arbitrate under a written agreement for
arbitration [to] petition any United States district court .
. . for an order directing that such arbitration proceed in
the manner provided for in [the] agreement.”
Id. § 4.
the liberal federal policy favoring arbitration, the FAA
“mandates that district courts shall direct 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 (1985). Thus, in a
motion to compel arbitration, the district court's role
is limited to determining “(1) whether a valid
agreement to arbitrate exists and, if it does, (2) whether
the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue.”
Kilgore v. KeyBank Nat'l Ass'n, 673 F.3d
947, 955-56 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Chiron Corp. v. Ortho