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Crawford v. Warren Manufacturing, Inc

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

August 13, 2019

ANDY CRAWFORD, JR., Plaintiff,


          John H. England, III United States Magistrate Judge

         Defendant Warren Manufacturing, Inc. (“Warren” or “Defendant”) has moved to compel arbitration and either dismiss or stay this action. (Doc. 18). Plaintiff Andy Crawford, Jr. (“Crawford” or “Plaintiff) has not opposed that motion. Warren has filed two replies in support. (Docs. 25 & 30). For the reasons stated below, Warren's motion is GRANTED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Proceeding pro se, Crawford file this Title VII employment action on November 14, 2018, along with a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) and to appoint counsel. (Docs. 1 & 2). The undersigned granted the IFP motion, but required Crawford to file an amended complaint, as it was unclear whether he was attempting to assert Title VII claims against three individual defendants.[2] (Doc. 3). The undersigned also denied the motion to appoint counsel without prejudice. (Id.).

         During the next two months, Crawford filed several amended complaints (omitting the individual defendants), (docs. 6, 8 & 10), none of which were suitable for service because they failed to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (see docs. 7 & 11). In the last of these, Crawford again requested counsel. (Doc. 10). Since Crawford's EEOC charge (attached to his original complaint) contained potentially meritorious claims, the undersigned granted that request and appointed counsel for the limited purpose of helping Crawford draft a complaint suitable for service. (Doc. 11). On April 4, 2019, attorney Jason P. Bailey (“Bailey”) filed a limited notice of appearance on behalf of Crawford. (Doc. 12). With Bailey's assistance, Crawford submitted his third amended complaint, (doc. 14), the operative pleading in this case.

         In the third amended complaint, Crawford, who is black, [3] alleges he formerly worked for Warren as a welder helper. (Id. at ¶ 17). While employed there, Crawford worked in close proximity to two employees who leveled racial slurs at him and made sexually suggestive comments and actions towards him. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-23). Another coworker occasionally joined in. (Id. at ¶¶ 18, 24). When Crawford complained about this to supervisors, he was told by the main supervisor to go home if he could not work with them. (Id. at ¶¶ 25-29). Although he returned to work after complaining, he was sent home during this shift and fired the next day. (Id. at ¶¶ 30-31). Crawford alleges a count of Title VII race discrimination, a count of Title VII sex discrimination, and a count of Title VII retaliation. (Id. at ¶¶ 32-60).

         Finding the complaint suitable for service, the undersigned ordered the Clerk of Court to serve the complaint on Warren. (Doc. 15). On June 21, 2019, Warren filed the instant motion to compel arbitration. (Doc. 18). The undersigned granted Bailey's pending motion to withdraw as counsel from his limited appearance, (docs. 17 & 20), and set a briefing schedule on the motion to compel arbitration, requiring Crawford's response by July 8, 2019, (doc. 21). That order included the following language:

Plaintiff should note that Attorney Jason P. Bailey was appointed by the court solely to assist Plaintiff in drafting a complaint. (See doc. 11). Attorney Bailey has since been permitted by text order to withdraw as counsel for Plaintiff, (see doc. 20); the court will forward Plaintiff a copy of the docket sheet, which contains that text order. Plaintiff should be aware that he, and not Attorney Bailey, is responsible for responding to the motion to compel arbitration.

(Id. at n.1). Crawford did not timely file a response to the motion to compel arbitration, and on July 12, 2019, Warren filed a reply in support of its motion urging it be granted as unopposed. (Doc. 25).

         On July 22, 2019, the undersigned held a telephone conference with the parties to discuss the process of making an election as to magistrate judge jurisdiction. (See doc. 23). At that conference, Crawford indicated his address had changed since he filed the complaint. The undersigned again reminded Crawford that he alone was responsible for responding to Warren's motion. The same day, the undersigned entered an order allowing Crawford additional time- until August 3, 2019-to respond to the motion, which was mailed to Crawford's new address. (Doc. 26). The order stressed that “it is Plaintiff's responsibility to respond to motions filed by Defendant, whether or not he is represented by an attorney.” (Id.) (emphasis in original). The order further noted “[i]f Plaintiff does not submit a response by that deadline, the motion to compel arbitration may be treated as unopposed.” (Id.) (emphasis in original). Crawford did not respond by the deadline. On August 9, 2019, Warren filed a second reply requesting its motion be granted as unopposed. (Doc. 30).

         IT. Analysis

         Crawford has had several opportunities to respond to the motion to compel arbitration, but he has neither filed a response nor requested additional time to response. Consistent with the previous order, (doc. 26), the undersigned treats the motion to compel arbitration as unopposed. Nevertheless, the undersigned must still determine if Warren is entitled to the relief it seeks.

         The Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., (the “FAA”), evinces “a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements.” CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood, 565 U.S. 95, 98 (2012) (quoting Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24 (1983)). Under the FAA, a court confronted with an enforceable arbitration agreement must stay the case and refer the matter to arbitration:

If any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the courts of the United States upon any issue referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such arbitration, the court in which such suit is pending, upon being satisfied that the issue involved in such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under such an agreement, shall on application of one of the parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration has been had in accordance with the ...

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