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Magno v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

June 14, 2018

CARLO MAGNO, Plaintiff,
v.
EXPERIAN INFORMATION SOLUTIONS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Verizon Wireless Services LLC's (“Verizon”) motion to compel arbitration. Dkt. 35. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion for the reasons stated herein.

         On June 19, 2017, Plaintiff Carlo Magno (“Plaintiff”) commenced this action by filing his complaint. Dkt. 1. On June 29, 2017, Plaintiff served his complaint on Verizon. Dkt. 19. On October 4, 2017, Verizon filed its answer to the complaint. Dkt. 31. On May 3, 2018, Verizon moved to dismiss the case and compel arbitration. Dkt. 35. On May 21, 2018, Plaintiff responded. Dkt. 38. On May 25, 2018, Verizon replied. Dkt. 39.

         Verizon moves to stay this matter and compel arbitration. The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides that “an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration an existing controversy arising out of such a contract, transaction, or refusal shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. The purpose of the FAA is to “reverse the longstanding judicial hostility to arbitration agreements . . . and to place arbitration agreements upon the same footing as other contracts.” Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 24 (1991). To that end, the FAA requires courts to stay proceedings when an issue before the Court can be referred to arbitration. 9 U.S.C. § 3.

         Under the FAA, the Court's role is “limited to determining (1) whether a valid agreement to arbitrate exists and, if it does, (2) whether the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue.” Chiron Corp. v. Ortho Diagnostic Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). If the party seeking arbitration establishes both factors, “then the [FAA] requires the court to enforce the arbitration agreement in accordance with its terms.” Id. “[A]ny doubts concerning the scope of arbitrable issues should be resolved in favor of arbitration . . . .” Id. at 1131.

         “[T]he party seeking to enforce an arbitration agreement bears the burden of showing that the agreement exists and that its terms bind the other party.” Peters v. Amazon Servs. LLC, 2 F.Supp.3d 1165, 1169 (W.D. Wash. 2013). To determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate, courts apply ordinary state-law contract principles. First Options of Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995). In Washington, “[t]he role of the court is to determine the mutual intentions of the contracting parties according to the reasonable meaning of their words and acts.” Fisher Props., Inc. v. Arden-Mayfair, Inc., 106 Wn.2d 826, 837 (1986).

         Verizon has presented an arbitration clause agreed to by Plaintiff when he entered into a contract with Verizon on July 24, 2007. The arbitration agreement states:

WE EACH AGREE TO SETTLE DISPUTES (EXCEPT CERTAIN SMALL CLAIMS) ONLY BY ARBITRATION…WE ALSO EACH AGREE, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THAT: (1) THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT APPLIES TO THIS AGREEMENT...ANY CONTROVERSY OR CLAIM ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THIS AGREEMENT FOR WIRELESS SERVICE WITH U.S. OR ANY OF OUR AFFILIATES OR PREDECESSORS IN INTEREST, OR ANY PRODUCT OR SERVICE PROVIDED UNDER OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS AGREEMENT OR SUCH A PRIOR AGREEMENT…WILL BE SETTLED BY ONE OR MORE NEUTRAL ARBITRATORS BEFORE THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION (“AAA”) OR BETTER BUSINESS BUREAS (“BBB”).

         Dkt. 36 at 15. Plaintiff does not challenge the validity of this agreement, but instead argues that (1) the current controversy does not encompass the dispute at issue, see Dkt. 38 at 5, or (2) Verizon waived any right to arbitration, see Id. at 6-8.

         The Court finds that the current controversy is in fact subject to a valid arbitration agreement. On February 11, 2014, Plaintiff upgraded his account via an Interactive Voice Response (“IVR”) system. Dkt. 41 at 12. In doing so, Plaintiff accepted the terms and conditions of the upgrade and agreed that:

“[T]he terms and conditions of the Verizon Wireless Customer Agreement and my Plan, which were previously provided to me, continue to apply to my service. I agree to extend my contract term for 2 years from the date my equipment ships . . . I understand these terms and conditions can be viewed on My Verizon at VerizonWireless.com . . . .”

Id. at 10. The terms and conditions available at VerizonWireless.com also included an arbitration clause as follows:

YOU AND VERIZON WIRELESS BOTH AGREE TO RESOLVE DISPUTES ONLY BY ARBITRATION OR IN SMALL CLAIMS COURT. THERE'S NO JUDGE OR JURY IN ARBITRATION, AND THE PROCEDURES MAY BE DIFFERENT, BUT AN ARBITRATOR CAN AWARD YOU THE SAME DAMAGES AND RELIEF, AND MUST HONOR THE SAME TERMS IN THIS AGREEMENT, AS A COURT WOULD. . . . WE ALSO BOTH AGREE THAT:
(1) THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT APPLIES TO THIS AGREEMENT. EXCEPT FOR SMALL CLAIMS COURT CASES THAT QUALIFY, ANY DISPUTE THAT IN ANY WAY RELATES TO OR ARISES OUT OF THIS AGREEMENT OR FROM ANY EQUIPMENT, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES YOU RECEIVE FROM U.S. (OR FROM ANY ADVERTISING FOR ANY SUCH PRODUCTS OR SERVICES) WILL BE RESOLVED BY ONE OR MORE NEUTRAL ARBITRATORS BEFORE THE AMERICAN ...

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