United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MICHAEL D. CASTRO, Plaintiff,
TRI MARINE FISH COMPANY, LLC, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO ENFORCE
FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARD
S. Lasnik United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to
enforce a foreign arbitral award that was settled with
plaintiff Michael D. Castro in February 2014. Dkt. # 22.
Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that the arbitral award
is invalid. Dkt. # 27. After reviewing the parties'
memoranda and exhibits, as well as the remainder of the
record, the Court grants Defendants' motion for the
reasons that follow.
12, 2013, Defendants' Human Resources Administrative
Manager, Eufemia Drandic, hired Plaintiff in American Samoa
to work as a deck hand on Defendants' fishing vessel, the
F/V Captain Vincent Gann. In Ms. Drandic's
presence, Plaintiff signed an employment contract containing
an arbitration clause. Dkt. # 22-1 at 4; Dkt. # 22-2,
two weeks later, Plaintiff was injured while working aboard
the vessel. Dkt. # 27-1, ¶ 5. Because Plaintiff is a
citizen of the Philippines, Defendants arranged to transport
Plaintiff to Manila, where Plaintiff traveled to his
parents' home. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7. On
August 19, 2013, Plaintiff underwent surgery to repair torn
ligaments in his knee. Id. at ¶ 8. While
Plaintiff was recovering from his knee surgery, he collected
maintenance and cure payments from Defendants through
Rhodylyn De Torres, an employee of Defendants' Manila law
firm Del Rosario Pandiphil, Inc. (“Pandiphil”).
Dkt. # 22-3, ¶¶ 3-6. Between September 2, 2013 and
February 24, 2014, Plaintiff collected thirteen payments.
Dkt. # 22-3, ¶ 6; id. at 5-32.
October 7, 2013, Plaintiff contacted Ms. Drandic about a
potential $3, 000 advance on his future maintenance and cure
payments. Dkt. # 22-1 at 1, 24. The request was approved and
Plaintiff received $3, 000 on October 11, 2013. Dkt. # 22-1
December 2, 2013, when collecting his regular maintenance
payment from Ms. De Torres, Plaintiff expressed interest in a
complete settlement with Defendants, as his monthly
maintenance and cure payments were not sufficient. Dkt. #
22-3, ¶ 7. On January 4, 2013, Plaintiff also contacted
Ms. Drandic about an additional cash advance. Dkt. # 22-2 at
7. He and Ms. Drandic communicated in English between January
4 and January 7, 2014. Dkt. # 22-2 at 5-7. On January 6,
Plaintiff requested a $5, 000 advance. Dkt. # 22-2 at 6. On
January 9, Ms. De Torres was informed that Defendants wanted
to send Plaintiff a $5, 000 payment as an advance on any
final settlement amount. Dkt. # 22-3, ¶ 10. Plaintiff
collected this payment on January 15, 2014, accompanied by
his girlfriend, April Castillo. Dkt. # 22-1 at 6.
February 14, 2014, Plaintiff and Ms. De Torres met and
negotiated the amount of his final settlement. Dkt. # 22-3,
¶ 13. After determining from Plaintiff's physician
that the cost of future physical therapy would be roughly $1,
160, Plaintiff and Ms. De Torres settled on a total
settlement amount of $21, 160. Dkt. # 22-3, ¶¶
13-14. This sum included the $5, 000 cash advance that
Plaintiff had already received. Id. at ¶¶
February 28, 2014, Plaintiff and Ms. Castillo met with Ms. De
Torres, along with Pandiphil Claims Executives Razelle Espana
and Caren Yabut, at Pandiphil's offices to execute the
settlement agreement. Dkt. # 22-4, ¶¶ 8-9. Pursuant
to Pandiphil's standard procedure, Ms. De Torres gave
Plaintiff a document explaining the rights and claims to
which Plaintiff was entitled as a seafarer, and explained
that if Plaintiff signed the papers necessary to receive the
additional $16, 160 in settlement funds, he would be
releasing all the parties named in the papers from any
further liability. Ms. De Torres also translated the papers
into Tagalog and gave Plaintiff an opportunity to ask
questions. Dkt. # 22-4, ¶ 9; Dkt. # 22-5, ¶¶
9-10. Plaintiff reviewed and signed a “Receipt and Full
Release, ” which repeatedly warned plaintiff that he
was waiving all future claims against Defendants: for
example, the document included this statement in bold,
capital letters: “THIS IS A RELEASE[.] I AM GIVING UP
EVERY RIGHT I HAVE.” Dkt. # 22-1 at 9-16. The release
was witnessed by Ms. Castillo, Ms. Espana, and Ms. Yabut, and
was notarized by Herbert A. Tria. Dkt. # 22-1 at 14.
after signing the release, Plaintiff, Ms. Castillo, and Ms.
Yabut brought the paperwork to the Office of the National
Conciliation and Mediation Board for approval by Gregorio
Biares, Jr., an accredited Maritime Voluntary Arbitrator.
Dkt. # 22-5, ¶¶ 2-11; Dkt. # 22-6, ¶¶
2-4. After reviewing the release documents, Mr. Biares
explained in both English and Tagalog the legal implications
of a compromise agreement, including that it would serve as a
bar against any future claims against Defendants. Dkt. #
22-6, ¶¶ 4-5; Dkt. # 22-3, ¶ 15; Dkt. # 22-5,
¶¶ 8-9. Plaintiff indicated that he understood the
implications of the documents he had signed. Dkt. # 22-6,
¶ 5. Accordingly, Mr. Biares entered an order finding
that the signed release and resulting compromise agreement
were “not contrary to law, morals, good customs and
public policy” and dismissing the case between
Plaintiff and Defendants. Dkt. # 22-1 at 8.
this $16, 160 settlement amount with the advances for $5, 000
and $3, 000, Plaintiff was paid a total of $24, 160.
November 22, 2016, Plaintiff sued Defendants in King County
Superior Court for negligence, unseaworthiness, maintenance
and cure, and statutory wages. Dkt. # 1 at 8-21. Defendants
removed, and on February 27, 2017 moved to enforce the
February 28, 2014 arbitral award barring Plaintiff's
claims. Dkt. ## 1, 22.
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