Matthew Charles Mitchell v. Jury Case AC31, et al
ORDER IN ADVANCE OF THE HEARING ON THE MTOION TO DISMISS. Signed by Judge Vince Chhabria on 6/1/2016. (knm, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 6/1/2016)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
MATTHEW CHARLES MITCHELL,
Case No. 15-cv-04044-VC
DAVID TILLETT, et al.,
ORDER IN ADVANCE OF THE
HEARING ON THE MOTION TO
The motion for sanctions is denied. There is a substantial possibility that the arbitration
agreement at issue here is not subject to the Federal Arbitration Act, because it arises out of a
contract for Mitchell's employment as a seaman. See 9 U.S.C. § 1. Mitchell's position is, at the
very least, non-frivolous.
At the hearing, the parties should be prepared to discuss the following issues:
1. What entity or entities were Mitchell's employer(s)? What entity or entities were
responsible for organizing and managing the 34th America's Cup? What is the
relationship between the Golden Gate Yacht Club and Oracle Racing/Oracle
2. Does the FAA's provision that "nothing herein contained shall apply to contracts
of employment of seamen," 9 U.S.C. § 1, prevent a seaman and his employer(s)
from opting into the FAA as a matter of contract? If not, did Mitchell opt into the
FAA as a matter of contract?
3. If the FAA does not apply here, what law governs? Section 29 of Mitchell's
employment contract with Oracle Racing provides that "this Agreement shall in
all respects be governed by the laws of the state of California." To the extent that
the arbitration agreement at issue here arises out of Mitchell's contract for
employment as a seaman (rendering the FAA inapplicable), does this choice-oflaw provision mean that the California Arbitration Act applies? See Cal. Civ. P.
Code §§ 1280-1294.2. If the choice-of-law provision in Mitchell's employment
contract does not apply here, do federal choice-of-law principles independently
establish that California law – including, in particular, the California Arbitration
Act – applies? See Valdes v. Swift Transp. Co., 292 F. Supp. 2d 524, 528
4. If the California Arbitration Act applies here, would the facts of this case support
tolling or otherwise extending the CAA's 100-day limitations period for filing a
petition to vacate? See Eternity Investments, Inc. v. Brown, 60 Cal. Rptr. 3d 134,
139 (Ct. App. 2007). Alternatively, if the FAA applies here, would the facts of
this case support equitably tolling the FAA's statute of limitations? Cf. Kwai Fun
Wong v. Beebe, 732 F.3d 1030, 1052 (9th Cir. 2013), aff'd and remanded sub
nom. United States v. Kwai Fun Wong, 135 S. Ct. 1625 (2015). Can these
questions be resolved on a motion to dismiss? See Rivera v. Peri & Sons Farms,
Inc., 735 F.3d 892, 902 (9th Cir. 2013); Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States,
68 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1995).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: June 1, 2016
United States District Judge
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