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Griggs v. Kenworth of Montgomery, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

December 26, 2019

ALTON R. GRIGGS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
KENWORTH OF MONTGOMERY, INC., Defendant. YUSEF BRINSON, Plaintiff-Intervenor,

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANDREW L. BRASHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Kenworth of Montgomery, Inc.'s (“Kenworth”) Motion to Compel Arbitration (Doc. 26) and Motion to Compel Intervenor Yusef Brinson's Claims to Arbitration (Doc. 52), which have been reopened pursuant to remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Doc. 132), and Kenworth's Renewed Motion to Compel Plaintiff's Claims and Intervenor's Claims to Arbitration. (Doc. 133). Upon consideration of Kenworth's motions, Plaintiffs' responses, and the evidentiary material in support of and in opposition to the motions, Kenworth's motions are GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a 2015 tractor-trailer accident in Jackson County, Alabama. Plaintiff Alton R. Griggs Jr., a commercial truckdriver, was driving the tractor-trailer (the “truck”) when the truck allegedly lost power and the engine shut down, causing Griggs to lose control of the truck and the truck to overturn and crash. One passenger was in the truck at the time of the accident, Plaintiff-Intervenor Yusef Brinson, and both Griggs and Brinson were injured as a result of the accident.

         About one month before the accident, A.K.G. Freight Carriers, LLC (“A.K.G.”) purchased the truck under warranty from Arrow Truck Sales, Inc., (“Arrow”) in Conyers, Georgia. Griggs and his wife, Kimberly Newson, are the only members of A.K.G. On March 3, 2015, Griggs was driving the truck in Selma, Alabama, when the truck allegedly experienced a sudden mechanical/electrical failure, causing it to lose power. Griggs claims that Arrow instructed him to have the truck towed to Kenworth's repair facility in Montgomery, Alabama, and that Arrow managed and participated in “all testing, test interpretation[, ] and repair decision making” related to the truck after it arrived at Kenworth's facility. (Doc. 136 at 3).

         Multiple repairs related to the truck's Electronic Control Module (“ECM”) were completed by Kenworth over the course of the next several days. On March 4, 2015, Kenworth attempted to fix the power loss issue by tightening a loose connection to the ECM, which proved unsuccessful after the engine shut down during a test drive. On March 5, 2015, Kenworth replaced the battery cable, which also proved unsuccessful after the engine again shut down during a test drive. Finally, that same day, Kenworth removed and replaced the ECM-a repair Griggs alleges was authorized and directed by Arrow. On March 6, 2015, after the truck was returned to Griggs, Griggs was driving the truck when it again lost power, allegedly causing the accident that now forms the basis of this lawsuit.

         Kenworth issued three separate repair orders and invoices for the repairs it performed on the truck, all of which contained the same arbitration provision:

         4. Arbitration.

Any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this Invoice or otherwise relating in any fashion to the purchase or sale of equipment, parts or service thereon shall be submitted to arbitration in the county in which the dealership is located in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. Judgment upon any award rendered in such proceedings may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof, and the parties hereto submit to the jurisdiction of all state and federal courts having venue in the county in which the dealership is located.

(Docs. 133-1 at 6, 26-4 at 2, 26-5 at 2, and 26-6 at 4).

         Griggs signed his individual name on the repair orders for the first two repairs and on the invoice for the third repair, though each repair order and invoice has a “Sold To” and “Ship To” section identifying A.K.G. as the customer. For the first repair, Arrow paid $189.75, and Griggs paid $214.29 with his personal Visa card. For the second repair, Griggs paid the entire repair cost-$429.64-with his personal Visa card. For the last repair, Kenworth sent Arrow a quote for approval, and Arrow paid $1, 936.61. Brinson neither signed nor paid any of the repair orders or invoices.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On June 1, 2016, Griggs filed this action against Arrow and Kenworth, asserting (1) negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, and negligent misrepresentation/fraud claims against Arrow and (2) negligence and negligent misrepresentation/fraud claims against Kenworth. Generally, Griggs claims that the truck had “an electrical system defect that the Defendants, at various times and despite numerous opportunities, failed to repair.” (Doc. 136 at 5). With respect to Kenworth, Griggs specifically asserts the following allegations in his Complaint:

20. After the replacement of the ECM, the subject tractor was returned to GRIGGS with the assurance that the repairs that had been performed would end the tractor's power loss and engine shut down problems. . . .
64. Defendant KENWORTH acted negligently and/or wantonly in failing to effectuate and confirm all necessary repairs had been performed, prior to relinquishing possession of the tractor to GRIGGS. . . .
65. Defendant KENWORTH acted negligently and/or wantonly in representing to GRIGGS that the subject tractor's performance problems had been corrected, prior to ...

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