United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER STAYING CASE AND COMPELLING ARBITRATION
JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.
This matter comes before the court on Defendant Advanced Call Center Technologies, LLC's ("Advanced Call Center") motion to dismiss and to compel arbitration. (Mot. (Dkt. # 35).) This case arises from Advanced Call Center's attempts to collect Plaintiff Maureen Lagrone's credit card debt. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the relevant law, and no party having requested oral argument, the court GRANTS Advanced Call Center's motion to compel arbitration but DENIES Advanced Call Center's motion to dismiss. The court STAYS the case pending completion of arbitration.
A. Ms. Lagrone's Claims
GE Capital Retail Bank ("GE Capital"), a former defendant to this case, issued Ms. Lagrone a personal credit card under a J.C. Penney label. ( See Am. Compl. (Dkt. # 21) ¶ 13.) Advanced Call Center, in turn, entered into an agreement with GE Capital to collect debts on behalf of GE Capital. (Supp. Keller Decl. (Dkt. # 46) ¶ 2.) When Ms. Lagrone allegedly fell behind on her credit card payments, GE Capital placed her account with Advanced Call Center for collection purposes. (Keller Decl. (Dkt. # 37) ¶ 2.)
In November, 2012, Advanced Call Center sent an initial debt validation letter to Ms. Lagrone. ( Id. Ex. A ("Letter").) Ms. Lagrone alleges that the substance of this letter violates numerous provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. ( See generally Am. Compl.) Ms. Lagrone, who seeks to bring this suit as a class action, originally named both GE Capital and Advanced Call Center as defendants. ( See Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) GE Capital has since reached a settlement agreement with Ms. Lagrone and has been dismissed from the action. ( See Koehler Decl. (Dkt. # 38) ¶ 11; Stip. Order (Dkt. # 26).)
Advanced Call Center now moves to compel Ms. Lagrone to arbitrate her claims. ( See Mot.) The court has stayed Ms. Lagrone's motion for class certification (Mot. to Cert. (Dkt. 30)) pending resolution of the motion to arbitrate. ( See 8/15/14 Order (Dkt. # 44).)
B. The Arbitration Provision
Advanced Call Center's motion is predicated on the arbitration provision found in the J.C. Penney Rewards Credit Card Account Agreement ("Agreement") between GE Capital and Ms. Lagrone. The most recent version of this Agreement, which Ms. Lagrone received in June 2012, provides:
If either you or we make a demand for arbitration, you and we must arbitrate any dispute between you... and us, our affiliates, agents and/or J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. if it relates to your account....
(Koehler Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. A ("Agreement") at 2.) The Agreement defines "we, " "us, " and "our" to refer to GE Capital. ( Id. ) The Agreement provides that the cardholder is permitted to reject the arbitration provision by mailing in notice within 60 days of the effective date of the Agreement. (Agreement at 2; see also Koehler Decl. Ex. B at 1 (prior version of credit card agreement between GE Capital and Ms. Lagrone).) Ms. Lagrone did not opt out of the arbitration provision. (Koehler Decl. ¶ 9.)
The Agreement also contains a choice of law clause, which provides:
This Arbitration section of your Agreement is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). Utah law shall apply to the extent state law is relevant under the FAA.
( Id. ) Although Advanced Call Center is not a signatory to this Agreement, it maintains that it is entitled to enforce the arbitration provision because either (1) GE Capital assigned Ms. Lagrone's credit card agreement to Advanced Call Center or (2) Advanced Call Center was acting as an agent of GE ...