United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. CORNELIUS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff, Tony Potapowicz, initiated this matter by filing a
complaint on December 13, 2016. (Doc. 1). Potapowicz asserts
claims for breach of contract and conversion under Alabama
law, as well as a claim for violations of the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621,
et seq., against his former employers. The parties
have unanimously consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 11). Presently
pending is the defendants' motion to dismiss or stay
pursuant to the parties' arbitration agreement. (Doc. 3).
Potapowicz has not responded to the motion. For the reasons
that follow, the motion will be granted, and this matter will
be stayed pending arbitration.
the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), claims of the
type asserted here are subject to mandatory arbitration where
(1) a valid agreement to arbitrate exists, (2) the claims
fall within the scope of that agreement, and (3) the
underlying contract evidences a transaction involving
interstate commerce. See 9 U.S.C. §
2;King v. Cintas Corp., 920
F.Supp.2d 1263, 1267 (N.D. Ala. 2013); Maddox v. USA
Healthcare-Adams, LLC, 350 F.Supp.2d 968, 972 (M.D. Ala.
2004). "To resolve [the first two] questions, courts
apply state-law principles relating to ordinary contract
formation and interpretation, construed through the lens of
the federal policy favoring arbitration." King,
920 F.Supp.2d at 1267.
undersigned finds the signed arbitration agreement in
question is valid and binding under Alabama law. See Ex
parte McNaughton, 728 So.2d 592, 595-96 (Ala. 1998)
(holding signed acknowledgement form indicated parties agreed
to be bound by arbitration policy, and employer's
provision of at-will employment to employee constituted
sufficient consideration in exchange for employee's
agreement to arbitrate employment disputes under arbitration
policy) (citing Kelly v. UHC Mgmt. Co., 967 F.Supp.
1240 (N.D. Ala. 1997)). The undersigned further finds all of
Potapowicz's claims fall within the scope of the
arbitration agreement, which applies to:
claims for breach of contract (express or implied); . . .
tort claims; all matters directly or indirectly related to
[Potapowicz's] recruitment, employment or termination of
employment by Certified Services, LLC/Gregerson Management
Services/Personnel Stafffing, Inc./ Chyna, Inc., including
but not limited to: . . . claims under federal or state law
involving discrimination, whether based on race, sex,
religion, national origin, [or] age . . . (this would
include, for example, claims brought under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . and/or the Age Discrimination
in Employment Act).
(Doc. 3-1 at 3-4).
the undersigned finds the existence of a nexus to interstate
commerce. The defendant entities operated business locations
throughout multiple states. (Doc. 3-1 at 1-2). Potapowicz
frequently travelled to the defendants' various
locations. (Doc. 1 at 4). As explained by a court in the Middle
District of Alabama:
[I]f an organization engages in business across state lines,
has any portion of its assets generated as a result of any
activity across state lines, or engages in any business that
may be regulated by the Congress pursuant to powers granted
in the Commerce Clause, then FAA jurisdiction is the
appropriate mechanism for settling a dispute where a valid
arbitration agreement has been executed.
Maddox, 350 F.Supp.2d at 973-74. Accordingly,
Potapowicz's claims are subject to the arbitration
provision, and the defendants' motion is due to be
granted to the extent it seeks an order compelling
provides that, where a dispute is subject to an arbitration
provision, the court "shall on application of one of the
parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration
has been had in accordance with the terms of the
agreement." 9 U.S.C.A. § 3. Accordingly, this
matter will be stayed pending arbitration. See Bender v.
A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., 971 F.2d 698, 699 (11th
Cir. 1992) (remanding with instructions to stay claims
pending arbitration, rather than dismiss). Additionally, the
pending motion to stay the requirements under Rule 26 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is
GRANTED. (Doc. 10).
foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion to compel (Doc.
3) is GRANTED, and this action is
STAYED and referred to arbitration. The
parties are ORDERED to report the status of
the arbitration by February 12, 2018, or when an arbitration
hearing is set, whichever is earlier.