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Versmesse v. At&T Mobility LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

March 4, 2014



JAMES T. MOODY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on defendant AT&T Mobility, LLC's motion to dismiss plaintiff Norma Jean Versmesse's complaint and compel arbitration. (DE # 10.) Plaintiff has filed a response (DE # 13), and defendant has filed a reply (DE # 14). For the following reasons, that motion is granted.

I. Legal Standard

Defendant AT&T Mobility, LLC ("defendant" or "AT&T Mobility") has moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint and compel arbitration under section 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"). (DE # 10 at 1.) The Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") "was originally enacted to reverse the longstanding judicial hostility to arbitration agreements that had existed at English common law and had been adopted by American courts, and to place arbitration agreements upon the same footing as other contracts.'" Kawasaki Heavy Indus. v. Bombardier Rec. Prods., 660 F.3d 988, 995 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 24 (1991)). Furthermore, the FAA demonstrates that Congress supports "a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration agreements." Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v. Mercury Contr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24 (1983).

Section 4 of the FAA allows a party to a written arbitration agreement to request an order from a federal district court compelling the parties to arbitrate. See 9 U.S.C. ยง 4. The court may look beyond the pleadings when reviewing a motion to compel arbitration. Armbrister v. Pushpin Holdings, LLC, 896 F.Supp.2d 746, 753 n. 3 (N.D. Ill. 2012).

II. Background and Facts

The court need not delve too deeply into the factual background supporting plaintiff's claims, as defendant's current motion does not concern the merits of those claims. Plaintiff worked for defendant as a business account executive from October 1, 2008 to March 14, 2012, the date plaintiff's employment was terminated. (DE # 1 at 1-4.) Plaintiff alleges that her termination violated Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act, and brings several other claims against defendant. ( Id. at 5-7.)

Defendant, however, contends that plaintiff agreed to arbitrate any claim she had against defendant. (DE # 10 at 1.) Defendant, therefore, argues that plaintiff's case must be dismissed and that plaintiff must be compelled to arbitrate her claims. ( Id. ) In support of its argument, defendant has attached the declarations of two employees and one outside consultant.

Kathleen Matyola, who was employed by defendant as a Corporate Compliance Training Program Manager from January 2008 to March 2012, provides the first declaration. (DE # 11-1.) During late 2011 and early 2012, Matyola was involved in implementing an arbitration program at AT&T Mobility, which included distributing notifications regarding the arbitration program to other employees. ( Id. at 1-2.) During the week before November 30, 2011, Matyola designed and sent an email ( see id. at 5) to all of defendant's management-based employees in the United States informing them of the creation of an arbitration program, and explaining what each employee needed to do to opt out. ( Id. at 2-3.)

The text of that email stated:

Action Required: Notice Regarding Arbitration Agreement

AT&T has created an alternative process for resolving disputes between the company and employees. Under this process, employees and the company would use independent, third-party arbitration rather than courts or juries to resolve legal disputes. Arbitration is more informal than a lawsuit in court, and may be faster.

The decision on whether or not to participate is yours to make. To help you make your decision, it is very important for you to review the Management Arbitration Agreement linked to this email. It provides important information on the process and the types of disputes that are covered by the Agreement.
Again, the decision is entirely up to you. To give you time to consider your decision, the company has established a deadline of no later than 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012 to opt out - that is, decline to participate in the arbitration process - using the instructions below.
If you do not opt out by the deadline, you are agreeing to the arbitration process as set forth in the Agreement. This means that you and AT&T are giving up the right to a court or ...

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