Banks v. Barclays Bank Credit Services
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT 18 of Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab, DENYING deft's motion 12 to compel arbitration w/out prejudice, DENYING pltf's motion 15 to reject deft's motion 12 as MOOT, giving parties 60 days from date of this order to conduct discovery limted to validity & enforceablility of purported arbitration agmt & @ close thereof deft may renew motion to compel arbitatration if warranted w/ br'ng for said motion to proceed per LR re: MSJs, & REMANDING matter to Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab for addt'l pretrial mgmt. (See order for complete details.) Signed by Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner on 10/20/17. (ki)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
OTTO V. BANKS,
BARCLAYS BANK CREDIT
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:17-CV-96
(Chief Judge Conner)
AND NOW, this 20th day of October, 2017, upon consideration of the
report (Doc. 18) issued by Chief Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab, recommending
that the court deny the motion (Doc. 12) to compel arbitration and stay proceedings
filed by defendant Barclays Bank Credit Services (“Barclays”), which report opines
that, because the amended complaint (Doc. 8) filed by pro se plaintiff Otto V. Banks
(“Banks”) is silent concerning an agreement to arbitrate, Banks is entitled to limited
discovery on the subject of arbitrability, (see Doc. 18 at 6), and the court noting that
Barclays filed an objection (Doc. 19) to the report, and following a de novo review of
the contested portions of the report, see Behar v. Pa. Dep’t of Transp., 791 F. Supp.
2d 383, 389 (M.D. Pa. 2011) (citing Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1106 n.3 (3d Cir.
1989); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)), and applying a clear error standard of review to the
uncontested portions, see Cruz v. Chater, 990 F. Supp. 375, 376-78 (M.D. Pa. 1999),
the court finding that Judge Schwab correctly applied the Third Circuit’s decision
in Guidotti v. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, L.L.C., 716 F.3d 764 (3d Cir. 2013),
which holds unequivocally that if a complaint and its incorporated documents are
not clear as to whether the parties agreed to arbitrate, “the non-movant must be
given the opportunity to conduct limited discovery on the narrow issue concerning
the validity of the arbitration agreement,” id. at 774; see also Horton v. FedChoice
Fed. Credit Union, 688 F. App’x 153, 157 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting Guidotti, 716 F.3d at
774),1 and the court thus being in agreement with Judge Schwab’s analysis, finding
same to be thorough, well-reasoned, and fully supported by the record, and finding
Barclays’ objection (Doc. 19) to be without merit and squarely addressed by the
report, it is hereby ORDERED that:
The report (Doc. 18) of Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab is ADOPTED.
Barclays’ motion (Doc. 12) to compel arbitration is DENIED without
Banks’ motion (Doc. 15) to reject Barclays’ motion to compel arbitration
is DENIED as moot.
The parties shall have sixty (60) days from the date of this order to
conduct discovery limited to the validity and enforceability of the
purported arbitration agreement. At the close thereof, Barclays may
renew its motion to compel arbitration if warranted. Briefing with
respect to said motion shall proceed according to the Local Rules of
Court governing motions for summary judgment.
This matter is REMANDED to Chief Magistrate Judge Schwab for
additional pretrial management.
/S/ CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER
Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge
United States District Court
Middle District of Pennsylvania
Guidotti articulates a second circumstance in which limited discovery is
warranted, to wit: if the plaintiff responds to a motion to compel arbitration “with
additional facts sufficient to place the agreement to arbitrate in issue.” Guidotti,
716 F.3d at 776. Banks arguably implicates this second scenario by disputing many
of the pertinent factual averments offered by Barclays’ paralegal in her supporting
declaration. (See Doc. 16).
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