Hartman, II v. Charter Communications, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER within seven days from entry of this Order, Charter Communications shall file their required Rule 7.1 corporate disclosure; within seven days from entry of Order, Straight Forward of Wisconsin, Inc. shall respond with its position regarding Docs 18 and 20 . Signed by District Judge Martin Reidinger on 3/30/2015. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.)(nv)
THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CIVIL CASE NO. 1:14-cv-00243-MR-DLH
RICHARD H. HARTMAN, II
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, )
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS )
(NC), LLC; CHARTER
COMMUNICATIONS VI, LLC;
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS )
VII, LLC; CHARTER
COMMUNICATIONS HOLDING )
COMPANY, LLC; CHARTER
CABLE OPERATING COMPANY,)
LLC; STRAIGHT FORWARD
OF WISCONSIN, INC.
DECISION AND ORDER
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel
Arbitration with Respect to Charter Communications, Inc. [Doc. 18] and the
Defendants’ Response Opposing in Part and Agreeing in Part to Plaintiff’s
Motion to Compel Arbitration [Doc. 20].
The Plaintiff initiated this action on September 15, 2014, seeking
damages from Charter Communications, Inc.; Charter Communications,
LLC; Charter Communications (NC), LLC; Charter Communications VI, LLC;
Charter Communications VII, LLC; Charter Communications Holding
Company, LLC; and Charter Cable Operating Company (collectively “the
Charter Defendants”) for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (“TCPA”). [Doc. 1]. On February 9, 2015, the Plaintiff filed an
Amended Complaint adding Straight Forward of Wisconsin, Inc. (“Straight
Forward”) as a Defendant. [Doc. 16].
The agreement between the Plaintiff and Charter Communications,
Inc. (the “Agreement”) contained an arbitration provision:
. . . This Agreement requires the use of arbitration to
resolve disputes and otherwise limits the remedies
available to Subscriber in the event of a dispute. . .
Charter and Subscriber agrees to arbitrate disputes
and claims arising out of or relating to this
Agreement, the Services or marketing of the
Services Subscriber has received from Charter. . .
TRANSACTION IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE.
THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT GOVERNS
THE INTERPRETATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF
THESE ARBITRATION PROVISIONS.
[Doc. 18-1, Section 24].
The Plaintiff filed his Motion to Compel Arbitration with Respect to
Defendant Charter Communications, Inc. on February 18, 2015 [Doc. 18],
and the Charter Defendants responded opposing in part and agreeing in part
to the Plaintiff’s motion [Docs. 20-21].
This matter is now ripe for disposition.
According to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), § 2:
A written provision in any maritime transaction or a
contract evidencing a transaction involving
commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy
thereafter arising out of such contract or transaction,
or the refusal to perform the whole or any part
thereof, or 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.A. § 2. The Fourth Circuit has held that “a litigant can compel
arbitration under the FAA if he can demonstrate “(1) the existence of a
dispute between the parties, (2) a written agreement that includes an
arbitration provision which purports to cover the dispute, (3) the relationship
of the transaction, which is evidenced by the agreement, to interstate or
foreign commerce, and (4) the failure, neglect or refusal of the defendant to
arbitrate the dispute.” Whiteside v. Teltech Corp., 940 F.2d 99, 102 (4th Cir.
Where there is a valid arbitration agreement and a claim has been
made raising issues within its scope, “[a] district court . . . has no choice but
to grant a motion to compel arbitration.” Adkins v. Labor Ready, Inc., 303
F.3d 496, 500 (4th Cir. 2002). There is a strong public policy in favor of
arbitration in North Carolina and on the federal level. See Johnston County
v. R.N. Rouse & Co., 331 N.C. 88, 91, 414 S.E.2d 30, 32 (1992); see also
Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 129 S.Ct. 1262, 1265 (2009).
In some cases, state law “traditional principles” “allow a contract to be
enforced by or against nonparties to the contract through ‘assumption,
piercing the corporate veil, alter ego, incorporation by reference, third-party
beneficiary theories, waiver and estoppel.’” Arthur Andersen LLP v. Carlisle,
556 U.S. 624, 631 (2009) (citing 21 R. Lord, Williston on Contracts § 57:19,
p. 183 (4th ed. 2001). Thus, nonsignatories may demand arbitration under
the FAA. Id.; see also American Bankers Insurance Group v. Long, 453 F.3d
623, 626-30 (4th Cir. 2006) (holding that both a signatory and a nonsignatory
were bound by an arbitration clause through equitable estoppel); see also
J.J. Ryan & Sons v. Rhone Poulenc Textile, S.A., 863 F.2d 315, 320-21 (4th
Cir. 1988) (holding that a parent company was bound by an arbitration
agreement signed by its subsidiary where the charges against both
companies were “based on the same facts” and “inherently inseparable”).
Further, according to the FAA, § 3:
If any suit or proceeding be brought in any of the
courts of the United States upon any issue referable
to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such
arbitration, the court in which such suit is pending,
upon being satisfied that the issue involved in such
suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under
such an agreement, shall on application of one of the
parties stay the trial of the action until such arbitration
has been had in accordance with the terms of the
agreement, providing the applicant for the stay is not
in default in proceeding with such arbitration.
9 U.S.C.A. § 3.
Here, the arbitration provision in the Agreement between the Plaintiff
and Charter Communications, Inc. is unambiguous, and the Defendants
have not questioned its validity.
[Doc. 18-1, Section 24].
arbitration provision is enforceable by this Court. The Charter Defendants
agree with the Plaintiff that “arbitration is appropriate in this case according
to the Service Agreement[,] but also contend that all Charter Defendants
should be included in the arbitration as the claims against Charter
Communications, Inc. are inseparably intertwined with the claims against the
other Charter Defendants . . . [and] the arbitration provision is broad in
scope.” [Doc. 21 at 2].
None of the Charter Defendants have filed the required disclosure
statements in this case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1.
Thus, this Court has no information regarding the relationship of the Charter
Defendants to one another. Such information is necessary for this Court to
make its determination regarding the Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Arbitration
with Respect to Charter Communications, Inc. [Doc. 18]. Thus, this Court
will order the Charter Defendants to file their required Rule 7.1 corporate
disclosures and inform this Court of their relationship to one another within
seven (7) days.
Further, the Court is unaware of Defendant Straight Forward’s position
regarding the arbitration issue in this case. Thus, this Court will give Straight
Forward seven (7) days to reveal its position in this matter.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Charter Communications, Inc.;
Charter Communications, LLC; Charter Communications (NC), LLC; Charter
Communications VI, LLC; Charter Communications VII, LLC; Charter
Communications Holding Company, LLC; and Charter Cable Operating
Company have seven (7) days from the entry of this Order to file their
required Rule 7.1 corporate disclosures and inform this Court of their
relationship to one another.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Straight Forward of Wisconsin, Inc.
has seven (7) days from the entry of this Order to respond with its position
regarding the Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Arbitration with Respect to Charter
Communications, Inc. [Doc. 18] and the Defendants’ Response Opposing in
Part and Agreeing in Part to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Arbitration [Doc.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed: March 30, 2015
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