Sutherland v. AmeriFirst Financial, Inc. et al

Filing 11

ORDER (1) Denying motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) Granting motion to transfer venue; and (3) Denying as moot motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Case transferred to District of Arizona. Signed by Judge John A. Houston on 9/25/2017. (jpp) (sjt).

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 LILA SUTHERLAND, an individual, Case No.: 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) Plaintiff, 12 13 v. 14 ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION; (2) GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER VENUE; AND (3) DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM [DOC. NO. 4] AMERIFIRST FINANCIAL, INC., an Arizona corporation, and DOES 1-25, 15 16 Defendants. 17 18 19 INTRODUCTION 20 Pending before the Court is Defendant AmeriFirst Financial, Inc.’s (“Defendant”) 21 motion to transfer this matter to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, 22 and compel arbitration of Plaintiff Lila Sutherland’s (“Plaintiff”) dispute in Maricopa 23 County, Arizona, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§1 et seq (the “FAA”). 24 See Doc. No. 4. Alternatively, Defendant moves this Court for an order dismissing 25 Plaintiff’s Complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction or failure to state a claim. Id. 26 Defendant’s motion has been fully briefed by the parties. See Doc. Nos. 5, 6. After careful 27 consideration of the pleadings, relevant exhibits, and for the reasons set forth below, the 28 Court (1) DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) 1 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 GRANTS Defendant’s motion to transfer venue to the District of Arizona for all further 2 proceedings; and (3) DENIES AS MOOT Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to 3 state a claim. 4 BACKGROUND 5 This matter arises from events preceding the termination of Plaintiff’s employment 6 with Defendant. See Doc. No. 4-1 at 2. Defendant employed Plaintiff from April 6, 2011 7 until July 1, 2015. Id. During her employment, Plaintiff worked, at-will, as an Executive 8 Assistant and Human Resources Generalist in Defendant’s branch office, located in Del 9 Mar, California. Id. On or about March 26, 2015, Plaintiff signed and acknowledged an 10 Employee Handbook distributed to Defendant’s California employees. See Doc. No. 4-4. 11 The Handbook contains, in part, the following dispute resolution provision: 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 Arbitration Agreement. Except as provided below, if we cannot reach a mutually agreeable solution within 60 days you and AmeriFirst agree that all disputes, claims, questions, or differences you have, or in the future may have, against AmeriFirst or its officers, directors, shareholders, employees or agents which arise out of or relate to your employment or separation from employment with AmeriFirst, and all legally protected employment-related claims that AmeriFirst has, or in the future may have, against you will be resolved exclusively by final and binding arbitration. Claims subject to arbitration include, without limitation, claims for breach of any express or implied contract; discrimination, harassment, or retaliation; wages, overtime, benefits, or other compensation; violation of public policy; personal injury; and tort claims including defamation, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with business expectancy, breach of duty of loyalty and fiduciary duty, unfair competition, and misappropriation. Except as expressly provided herein, AmeriFirst and you voluntarily waive all right to trial in state or federal court before a judge or jury on all claims between them. 26 27 See Doc. No. 4-4 at 9 (emphasis in original). The same page of the Handbook includes a 28 general explanation of the arbitration process, and an overview of the notice requirements 2 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 necessary before commencing arbitration. Id. On July 1, 2015, Defendant terminated 2 Plaintiff’s employment at-will. See Doc. No. 5 at 3. Plaintiff subsequently filed suit in San 3 Diego County Superior Court, on March 17, 2016, alleging claims for (1) failure to pay 4 overtime wages; (2) failure to pay wages, including minimum wages; (3) failure to 5 reimburse employee expenses; (4) failure to provide meal periods; (5) failure to provide 6 rest periods; (6) unfair competition; (7) failure to timely pay wages; (8) knowing and 7 intentional failure to comply with itemized employee wage statement provisions; and (9) 8 statutory penalties, pursuant to the Private Attorney General Act, Cal. Labor Code §§ 2633 9 et seq. See Doc. No. 1-3 at 3. Defendant removed to this Court on the basis of diversity 10 jurisdiction. See Doc. No. 1. Defendant then filed the instant motion to transfer venue and 11 compel arbitration, or, in the alternative, to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Rules 12 12(b)(2) or 12(b)(6). See Doc. No. 4. Plaintiff filed an opposition on August 15, 2016, and 13 Defendant replied on August 22, 2016. See Doc. No. 5, 6. On August 22, 2016, the Court 14 deemed the matter suitable for disposition without oral argument, and took the matter under 15 submission. See Doc. No. 7 (citing CivLR 7.1(d)(1)). 16 DISCUSSION 17 I. Legal Standards 18 a. 19 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), a court may dismiss a case for “lack 20 of jurisdiction over the person.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2). The Ninth Circuit has established 21 a two prong test for determining if the Court’s assertion of personal jurisdiction is proper: 22 (1) “‘jurisdiction must comport with the state long-arm statute,’” and (2) comport “‘with 23 the constitutional requirement of due process.’” Mattel, Inc., v. Greiner & Hausser GMBH, 24 354 F.3d 857, 863 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Ziegler v. Indian River County, 64 F.3d 470, 25 473 (9th Cir. 1995)). Personal Jurisdiction 26 As to the first prong, California’s long arm statute provides that “a court of this state 27 may exercise jurisdiction on any basis not inconsistent with the Constitution of this State 28 or of the United States.” Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 410.10. Because California law allows the 3 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 exercise of jurisdiction to the same extent as due process under the United States 2 Constitution, the only question is whether the exercise of jurisdiction over the defendant is 3 constitutional. Mattel, 354 F.3d at 863. Under a due process analysis, the Court may only 4 exercise jurisdiction in accord with “traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice,” 5 thus the nonresident defendant is required to have “certain minimum contacts” with the 6 forum state in order for jurisdiction to be proper. Id. (quoting International Shoe Co. v. 7 Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). 8 Personal jurisdiction may be found where the defendant’s activities subject him to 9 either general or specific jurisdiction. General jurisdiction exists where a nonresident 10 defendant’s activities within a state are “substantial” or “continuous and systematic.” Data 11 Disc, Inc. v. Systems Technology Associates, Inc., 557 F.2d 1280, 1287 (9th Cir. 1977). In 12 the absence of general jurisdiction, a nonresident defendant may still be sued in the forum 13 if specific jurisdiction exists. Id. The Ninth Circuit has established a three-part test to 14 determine whether there is specific jurisdiction over a defendant: 15 16 17 18 ‘Specific’ jurisdiction exists if (1) the defendant has performed some act or consummated some transaction within the forum or otherwise purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, (2) the claim arises out of or results from the defendant’s forum-related activities, and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction is reasonable. 19 20 Mattel, 354 F.3d at 863 (quoting Bancroft & Masters v. Augusta Nat. Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 21 1086 (9th Cir. 2000)). The Court must assess the contacts of each defendant separately to 22 determine whether personal jurisdiction exists for each particular defendant. See Harris 23 Rutsky & Co. Ins. Servs. Inc. v. Bell & Clements Ltd., 328 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2003); 24 Sher v. Johnson, 911 F.2d 1357, 1365 (9th Cir. 1990); Gutierrez v. Givens, 1 F. Supp.2d 25 1077, 1083 n. 1 (S.D. Cal. 1998). 26 Plaintiff bears the burden of making a prima facie showing that jurisdiction is proper. 27 Mattel, 354 F.3d at 862 (citing Harris Rutsky, 328 F.3d at 1128). Although plaintiff need 28 only make a prima facie showing that personal jurisdiction exists, plaintiff “cannot ‘simply 4 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 rest on the bare allegations of its complaint.’” Id. (internal citation omitted); see also Ochoa 2 v. J.B. Martin and Sons Farms, Inc., 287 F.3d 1182, 1187 (9th Cir. 2001). “To make that 3 showing, [plaintiff] need only demonstrate facts that, if true, would support jurisdiction 4 over the [d]efendants.” Id. “‘Conflicts between the facts contained in the parties’ affidavits 5 must be resolved in [plaintiff’s] favor for purposes of deciding whether a prima facie case 6 for personal jurisdiction exists.’” Corp. v. L.L. Bean, Inc., 341 F.3d 1072, 1075- 7 76 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting AT&T v. Compagnie Bruxelles Lambert, 94 F.3d 586, 588 (9th 8 Cir. 1996); see also Doe v. Unocal Corp., 248 F.3d 915, 922 (9th Cir. 2001). 9 b. Failure to State a Claim 10 A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. 11 Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory. See Robertson v. Dean Witter 13 Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir. 1984); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326 14 (1989) (“Rule 12(b)(6) authorizes a court to dismiss a claim on the basis of a dispositive 15 issue of law”). Alternatively, a complaint may be dismissed where it presents a cognizable 16 legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson, 749 F.2d at 534. 17 While a plaintiff need not give “detailed factual allegations,” he must plead sufficient facts 18 that, if true, “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. 19 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). 20 “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, 21 accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 22 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 547). A claim is facially 23 plausible when the factual allegations permit “the court to draw the reasonable inference 24 that the Defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. In other words, “the non- 25 conclusory ‘factual content,’ and reasonable inferences from that content, must be 26 plausibly suggestive of a claim entitling the plaintiff to relief.” Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 27 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible 28 5 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw 2 on its judicial experience and common sense.” Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. 3 In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume the 4 truth of all factual allegations and must construe all inferences from them in the light most 5 favorable to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir. 2002); 6 Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). However, legal 7 conclusions need not be taken as true merely because they are cast in the form of factual 8 allegations. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir. 2003); Western Mining 9 Council v. Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). When ruling on a motion to dismiss, a 10 court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint, 11 documents relied upon but not attached to the complaint when authenticity is not contested, 12 and matters of which a court takes judicial notice. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 13 688-89 (9th Cir. 2001). If a court determines that a complaint fails to state a claim, the 14 court should grant leave to amend unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly 15 be cured by the allegation of other facts. See Doe v. United States, 58 F.3d 494, 497 (9th 16 Cir. 1995). 17 II. Analysis 18 a. 19 Defendant argues that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it. See Doc. No. 4- 20 1 at 16. The Court has reviewed the issue, and finds that Plaintiff makes a prima facie 21 showing that this Court may properly exercise jurisdiction over Defendant. See Homestake 22 Lead Co. of Missouri v. Doe Run Resources Corp., 282 F.Supp.2d 1131, 1134 (2003). Personal Jurisdiction 23 Indeed, it is undisputed that Defendant maintained a branch office in Del Mar, 24 California for over four years, and Plaintiff worked at that branch. See Doc. No. 4-1 at 7. 25 The Court finds that these undisputed facts, standing alone, are sufficient to support 26 “continuous and systematic contacts” with the forum state, notwithstanding Plaintiff’s 27 additional allegations about Defendant’s longstanding business registration with the 28 California Secretary of State. See Tuazon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 433 F.3d 1163, 6 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 1171 (9th Cir. 2006). The Court further finds that Defendant has not demonstrated the 2 presence of other factors that would render the finding of jurisdiction unreasonable. See 3 OMI Holdings, Inc. v. Royal Ins. Co. of Canada, 149 F.3d 1086, 1091 (10th Cir. 1998). 4 Thus, the Court finds the exercise of jurisdiction is in accord with “traditional notions of 5 fair play and substantial justice.” See Mattel, 354 F.3d at 863 (quoting International Shoe 6 Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Defendant’s motion to dismiss the 7 Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) is, therefore, DENIED. 8 b. 9 Defendant contends that the arbitration agreement prohibits Plaintiff from stating a 10 claim upon which this Court can grant relief because the parties agreed that “all disputes, 11 claims, questions, or differences” arising from Plaintiff’s employment or separation would 12 be resolved by binding arbitration, instead of before a state or federal court. See Doc. No. 13 4-4 at 8-10. Specifically, Defendant argues that all of Plaintiff’s causes of action relate to, 14 derive from, and arise in connection with her employment relationship with Defendant, 15 and fall squarely within the scope of the arbitration agreement. See Doc. No. 4-1 at 7. In 16 opposition, Plaintiff argues that the Complaint states a claim upon which this Court can 17 grant relief because the arbitration agreement is unenforceable. See Doc. No. 5. 18 Specifically, Plaintiff argues that the arbitration clause she agreed to is unconscionable, 19 lacks mutuality, and, therefore, should be set aside. See Doc. No. 5 at 14. In reply, 20 Defendant maintains that the arbitration agreement is enforceable, and, in the event that the 21 Court makes a finding to the contrary, any unenforceable provision(s) of the contract is 22 severable. See Doc. No. 6 at 2, 10. Failure to State a Claim 23 Drawing all inferences in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, and for the reasons 24 set forth below, the Court finds Defendant’s argument availing. For the following reasons, 25 the Court finds that the subject arbitration agreement is valid, that the agreement includes 26 the dispute at issue, and the parties’ agreement to arbitrate Plaintiff’s dispute should be 27 enforced. 28 // 7 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 i. Arbitrability 2 The FAA governs the question of arbitrability. See 9 U.S.C. § 4. Arbitration is a 3 matter of contract and courts cannot require a party to arbitrate unless that party has agreed 4 to do so. United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf, 363 U.S. 574, 582 (1960). 5 The court’s role is limited to determining whether a valid agreement exists and, if it does, 6 deciding whether the agreement includes the dispute at issue. Chiron Corp. v. Ortho 7 Diagnostic Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). If the finding is affirmative on 8 both counts, the court is required by the FAA to enforce the terms of the arbitration 9 agreement. Id. Doubts as to whether the arbitration clause covers the dispute at issue should 10 be resolved in favor of coverage. Warrior & Gulf, 363 U.S. at 582-83. Clauses requiring 11 arbitration of claims “arising out of or relating to” a contract are considered broad. Prima 12 Paint Corp. v. Flood & Conklin Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 395, 398 (1967). The preference for 13 arbitration is particularly strong when the arbitration clause is broad. AT&T Technologies, 14 Inc. v. Communications Workers of America, 475 U.S. 643, 650 (1986). 15 1. The Subject Arbitration Agreement is Valid 16 “The FAA does not apply until the existence of an arbitration agreement is 17 established under state law principles involving formation, revocation and enforcement of 18 contracts generally.” Cione v. Fosters Equity Services, Inc., 58 Cal. App. 4th 625, 634 19 (1997). The party seeking to compel arbitration bears the burden of proving the existence 20 of a valid arbitration agreement. Fagelbaum & Heller LLP v. Smylie, 174 Cal. App. 4th 21 1351, 1363 (2009). 22 Defendant contends that the subject arbitration agreement is valid and enforceable 23 because Plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily agreed to the terms and conditions contained 24 in the Employee Handbook, which included the arbitration agreement. See Doc. No. 4-1 at 25 1, 3. In opposition, Plaintiff argues that the agreement she signed is invalid because the 26 arbitration clause’s adhesive nature, and position within the larger Employee Handbook, 27 constitutes unfair surprise, rising to the level of unconscionability. See Doc. No. 5 at 11. In 28 reply, Defendant (1) argues that the agreement’s adhesive nature does not make it 8 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 unconscionable, and therefore, invalid, [see doc. no. 6 at 2]; and (2) maintains that the 2 record includes no evidence of surprise or oppression that would make the agreement 3 procedurally unconscionable. See Doc. No. 6 at 3. Drawing all reasonable inferences in the 4 light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds Plaintiff’s unconscionability arguments 5 unavailing. A valid arbitration agreement exists. 6 It is undisputed that, on March 26, 2015, Plaintiff signed and acknowledged her 7 receipt, understanding of, and agreement to be bound by, the Employee Handbook 8 containing the subject arbitration agreement, and the document entitled “Dispute 9 Resolution Policy Acknowledgement.” See Doc. No. 4-4 at 50; Doc No. 5 at 3. Plaintiff 10 nevertheless argues that the arbitration agreement is unenforceable because Defendant’s 11 method of obtaining her consent was procedurally unconscionable. The Court disagrees. 12 In California, procedural unconscionability refers to “the manner in which the 13 contract was negotiated and the circumstance of the parties at the time.” A & M Produce 14 Co. v. FMC Corp., 135 Cal. App. 3d 473, 486 (1982). It has two components, oppression 15 and surprise. Kinney v. United Healthcare Services, Inc., 70 Cal. App 4th 1322, 1329 16 (1999). Oppression arises from inequality of bargaining power resulting from a lack of 17 negotiation and the absence of meaningful choice on the part of the weaker party. A & M, 18 135 Cal. App. 3d at 486. Oppression may be established by showing that the contract was 19 one of adhesion or that the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding the negotiation and 20 formation of the contract were oppressive. Poulon v. C.H. Robinson Company, 846 F.3d 21 1251, 1348 (9th Cir. 2017). California courts have found that the adhesive nature of the 22 contract may establish some degree of unconscionablity, but have not adopted a rule that 23 an adhesion contract is per se unconscionable. Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., LLC, 61 24 Cal. 4th 899, 914-15 (2015). 25 In the employment context, if an employee is required to sign a non-negotiable 26 agreement as a condition of employment, but “there is no other indication of oppression or 27 surprise,” then “the agreement will be enforceable unless the degree of substantive 28 9 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 unconscionability1 is high.” Serpa v. Cal. Sur. Investigations, Inc., 215 Cal. App. 4th 695, 2 704 (2013). 3 Plaintiff filed opposition to Defendant’s motion on August 15, 2016. See Doc. No. 4 5. In support, Plaintiff included a declaration supplying her recollection of the events 5 leading up to Defendant obtaining her signed acknowledgement of the Employee 6 Handbook, and the subject arbitration agreement. See Doc. No. 5-1. Plaintiff declares that 7 her at-will employment as an Executive Assistant and Human Resources Generalist began 8 “[i]n or around June 2011” and at the time of hiring, she was not required to sign any type 9 of arbitration clause or similar agreement. Id. at 2. Plaintiff further testified that “[a]fter 10 many years of working for AFI in California, I recall being e-mailed documents regarding 11 an updated employee handbook for AFI’s California employees[.]” Id. Plaintiff recalls that 12 employees in receipt of the new Employee Handbook were “encouraged” to sign the 13 agreement “by a certain date[.]” Id. The specific due date is not indicated. However, 14 Plaintiff recalls that “there was a rush to get the handbook signed by all employees[;]” and 15 that signing it was required by California workers, as a condition of continued employment. 16 Id. 17 Exhibit A of Plaintiff’s declaration includes a copy of the “General Handbook 18 Acknowledgement” signed by Plaintiff on March 26, 2015. The signed acknowledgement 19 indicates that Plaintiff “received and read a copy of AmeriFirst’s Employee Handbook” 20 and understood that her signature “indicates that I have read and understand the above 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Agreements that are substantively unconscionable must contain “terms that impair the bargaining process,” terms that “contravene the public interest or public policy,” terms that “alter in an impermissible manner fundamental duties otherwise imposed by the law,” “fine-print terms,” or “provisions that seek to negate the reasonable expectations of the nondrafting party.” Baltazar v. Forever 21, Inc., 62 Cal. 4th 1237, 1244-45 (Cal. 2016) (quoting Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno, 57 Cal. 4th 1109, 1145). The doctrine of substantive unconscionability exists to ensure that contracts do not impose terms that are “overly harsh,” “unduly oppressive,” “so one-sided as to shock the conscience, or “unfairly one-sided.” Id. at 1244. 1 10 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 statements and that I have received a copy of the Company’s Employee Handbook.” See 2 Doc. No. 5-1 at 7. Notwithstanding the signed acknowledgement of her understanding, 3 Plaintiff declares that she did not understand what she signed because Defendant failed to 4 provide additional documentation or explanation as to various parts of the Employee 5 Handbook. See id. at 2. For example, Plaintiff indicates that “at no time did anyone from 6 AFI explain to me what arbitration was, what the ‘AAA’ was, what the ‘AAA’ rules were, 7 or any of the terms.” Id. 8 communicated her lack of understanding with Defendant, or sought to negotiate the 9 amended terms of her employment outlined in the Employee Handbook, or that the terms 10 were oppressive. Instead, Plaintiff’s declaration indicates that she signed and returned the 11 acknowledgement despite her apparent unawareness of the Handbook’s content and 12 adhesive nature. See generally Doc. No. 5-1. Plaintiff does not allege, or otherwise indicate, that she 13 In light of the entire record, which includes no allegation that the arbitration 14 agreement was non-negotiable, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not shown facts sufficient 15 to support a procedural unconscionability finding. The Court additionally finds the degree 16 of substantive unconscionability low. Serpa v. Cal. Sur. Investigations, Inc., 215 Cal. App. 17 4th 695, 704 (2013). Indeed, looking to the language of subject documents, the Court 18 notices no term which shocks the conscience, contravenes public policy, or otherwise 19 impermissibly alters the fundamental duties imposed by law. See Doc. No. 4-4 at 1-47 20 (AmeriFirst California Employee Handbook; General Handbook Acknowledgement; and 21 Dispute Resolution Policy Acknowledgement). Accordingly, the Court finds that the 22 arbitration agreement is valid. 23 2. The Aribtration Agreement Includes the Dispute at Issue 24 To trigger an arbitration requirement, the movant’s factual allegations need only 25 “touch matters” covered by the contract containing the arbitration clause. See Mitsubishi 26 Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 624 (1985). Once the 27 arbitration clause is triggered, the court must allow arbitration “even where the result would 28 11 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 be the possibility of inefficient maintenance of separate proceedings in different forums.” 2 Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v. Boyd, 470 U.S. 213, 217 (1985). 3 Here, Defendant’s factual allegations, as well as Plaintiff’s Complaint, leaves little 4 doubt that the matter before the Court “touch[es] matters” covered by the arbitration 5 agreement. See Doc. Nos. 4, 5. Indeed, Plaintiff brings various claims alleging, inter alia, 6 wage & hour violations arising from her employment as an Executive Assistant and Human 7 Resources Generalist, and Defendant alleges those claims fall squarely within the scope of 8 the arbitration agreement. See generally Doc. No. 1; see also Doc. No. 1-3 at 3; Cf Doc. 9 No. 4-4 at 9 (indicating that the arbitration agreement includes, “without limitation, claims 10 for . . . wages, overtime, benefits, or other compensation[.]”). The Court finds that the 11 arbitration agreement includes the dispute at issue. 12 ii. Transfer 13 In the arbitration agreement, the parties agreed upon venue in Maricopa County, 14 Arizona. In this Court’s view, Section 4 of the FAA does not permit this Court to compel 15 arbitration outside of the Southern District of California. See Continental Grain Co. v. Dant 16 & Russell, 11 F.2d 967, 969 (9th Cir. 1941) (holding that a district court may compel 17 arbitration only “within the district in which the petition for an order directing such 18 arbitration is filed.”). Instead, the appropriate remedy is to transfer this case to the District 19 of Arizona. See 28 U.S.C § 1404(a) (authorizing a district court to transfer any civil action 20 to any other district or division where it might have been brought or to any district or 21 division to which all parties have consented.). 22 CONCLUSION AND ORDER 23 For the foregoing reasons, the Court (1) DENIES Defendant’s motion to dismiss for 24 lack of personal jurisdiction; (2) GRANTS Defendant’s motion to transfer venue; and (3) 25 DENIES AS MOOT Defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. 26 The Clerk of Court is directed to TRANSFER this case to the United States District 27 Court for the District of Arizona for all further proceedings. 28 // 12 16cv01676-JAH (WVG) 1 IT IS SO ORDERED. 2 3 4 5 6 DATED: September 25, 2017 _________________________________ JOHN A. HOUSTON United States District Judge 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 13 16cv01676-JAH (WVG)

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?