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Simmons v. Rush Truck Centers of Idaho, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 24, 2017

ROGER SIMMONS, an Individual, Plaintiff,
v.
RUSH TRUCK CENTERS OF IDAHO, INC., a Delaware corporation d/b/a/ RUSH TRUCK CENTER, IDAHO FALLS; and RUSH ENTERPRISES, INC., a Texas corporation Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Edward J. Lodge United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss Lawsuit (Dkt. 8.) The parties filed responsive briefing and the motion is now ripe for decision. Having fully reviewed the record herein, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument. As explained more fully below, the Court grants Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss Lawsuit.

         BACKGROUND/FACTS

         As set forth in the Complaint, Plaintiff, Roger Simmons, was an employee of the Defendants for approximately nine years ending on or about May 22, 2015. (Dkt. 1.) On February 17, 2014, approximately eight years after he began working with Defendants, Plaintiff signed both Rush Enterprises and It's Affiliates' Employment at Will and Arbitration Agreement (“Arbitration Agreement”) and Acknowledgment of Receipt of Employee Handbook (“Acknowledgement”). (Dkt. 8-3, 8-5.) The Employee Handbook includes, in part, an Employee Complaint, Grievance, and Dispute Resolution Process (the “DRP”). (Dkt. 8-4.)

         Just over one year after signing the Arbitration Agreement and Acknowledgment, on February 26, 2015, Plaintiff was injured on the job and tore his retina. He took an unpaid leave of absence from work for surgery to repair the injury. (Dkt. 1.)

         On May 18, 2015, Plaintiff informed Defendants that he was medically released to return to part-time, light duty work. Plaintiff contends he could have performed many of his job duties within these restrictions. (Dkt. 1.)

         Four days later, on May 22, 2015, Plaintiff received a letter from Defendants informing him that his benefits were terminating because of his leave of absence status and providing him COBRA qualification information. Plaintiff interpreted this letter as his notice of termination from employment. Defendants have not paid Plaintiff since he went on leave, scheduled him to work, or asked when or whether he could return to work. (Dkt. 11.)

         On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit claiming the Defendants' conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and the Idaho Human Rights Act (“IHRA”), Idaho Code § 67-5901. (Dkt. 1.) On February 17, 2017, in response to the Complaint, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration. (Dkt. 8.) Defendants argue that the claims at issue are governed by the parties' contract as set forth in the Arbitration Agreement and the DRP. (Dkt 8-3, 8-4.) Plaintiff argues that neither of these documents, either alone or together, constitute a valid or enforceable contract under Idaho state contract law principles.

         STANDARD OF LAW

         “The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires courts to ‘place arbitration agreements on an equal footing with other contracts, and enforce them according to their terms.'” Publom v. C.H. Robinson Company, 846 F.3d 1251, 1259 (9th Cir. 2017) (quoting AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 339 (2011)). The FAA expressly provides that arbitration agreements are generally valid and enforceable unless grounds for revoking the agreement “exist at law or in equity for the revocation of the contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. This permits agreements to arbitrate to be invalidated by “generally applicable contract defenses, such as fraud, duress, or unconscionability.” Doctor's Assocs., Inc. v. Casaratto, 517 U.S. 681, 687 (1996).

         Whether there is a legal or equitable reason for revoking an arbitration agreement is a matter of state contract law. Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 279 F.3d 889, 892 (9th Cir. 2002). Federal courts determining the validity of an agreement to arbitrate should apply ordinary state-law principles that govern the formation of contracts: thus, general contract defenses such as fraud, duress, or unconscionability, grounded in state contract law, may operate to invalidate arbitration agreements in whole or in part. Id.

         ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff argues the Arbitration Agreement does not constitute a valid contract, because it lacks mutual assent and consideration. Plaintiff further argues the agreement cannot be enforced because it is both procedurally and substantively unconscionable.

         1. The Arbitration Agreement Constitutes a Valid Contract.

         As explained more fully below, the Court finds the contract is supported by mutual assent and consideration.

         A. ...


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