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Hynan v. XPO Logistics Freight, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 15, 2019

MATTHEW HYNAN, Plaintiff,
v.
XPO LOGISTICS FREIGHT, INC., Defendant.

          ENTRY

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE

         Plaintiff Matthew Hynan filed this action on September 13, 2018 against Defendant XPO Logistics Freight, Inc. (“XPO”) alleging violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. XPO now moves to dismiss and compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 2. [Filing No. 12.] In addition to the arbitration clause (which provides for arbitration of certain issues in Charlotte, North Carolina), the Confidential Information Protection Agreement (“Agreement”) at issue contains a forum selection clause providing for venue in the state and federal courts in North Carolina.

         Both parties ultimately recognize in their briefing that this Court cannot compel arbitration in Charlotte, which is outside of this District. But the North Carolina federal court can. Therefore, after addressing Mr. Hynan's lone argument against venue in North Carolina, the Court TRANSFERS this matter to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division. Insofar as it pertains to this Court's docket, the Court DENIES XPO's Motion.

         I.

         Background

          The following facts are drawn from the allegations in Mr. Hynan's Complaint, [Filing No. 1], and the evidence submitted by XPO in conjunction with its Motion. Cf. Faulkenberg v. CB Tax Franchise Sys., LP, 637 F.3d 801, 809-10 (7th Cir. 2011) (noting that courts may consider “evidence outside the pleadings” in addressing venue issues). XPO hired Mr. Hynan in July 2016 as a Service Center Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and later promoted him to District General Manager serving the Indianapolis, Indiana region. [Filing No. 1 at 3-4.] In his role as a District General Manager, Mr. Hynan was responsible for overseeing XPO's business operations in the Indianapolis region. [Filing No. 17-1 at 2.]

         As a condition of his employment, Mr. Hynan signed the Agreement, which contains two separate provisions addressing the proper forum for resolving disputes between Mr. Hynan and XPO. The first is section 18(b), which provides:

(b) Arbitration of Claims Initiated By You: Any claim you wish to initiate arising out of or relating to this Agreement, the breach thereof, your employment with us, or the termination of that employment will be resolved by binding arbitration before a single arbitrator in the City of Charlotte, North Carolina administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its Labor, Employment & Elections Arbitration Rules, and judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

[Filing No. 12-1 at 11.] Section 18(d) sets forth where any lawsuit must be filed:

(d) Consent to Jurisdiction and Waiver of Jury Trial: You hereby irrevocably submit to the jurisdiction of any state or federal court located in Mecklenburg County North Carolina . . . . To the extent that, notwithstanding Section 18(b), you bring an action in any court, you agree to do so exclusively in the state or federal court located in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, provided that nothing herein shall waive the Company's right to demand that you comply with Section 18(b).

[Filing No. 12-1 at 11 (emphasis in original).] The Agreement also contains a choice-of-law clause which provides: “This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with its express terms, and otherwise in accordance with the laws of the State of North Carolina, without reference to its principles of conflicts of law.” [Filing No. 12-1 at 11.]

         XPO terminated Mr. Hynan's employment on November 27, 2017. [Filing No. 1 at 4.] According to Mr. Hynan, however, the termination violated his rights under the ADA and FMLA. [Filing No. 1.] After filing a charge with the EEOC and receiving a right to sue letter, Mr. Hynan filed this lawsuit. [Filing No. 1 at 2.] On December 12, 2018, XPO requested that Mr. Hynan voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit and pursue arbitration under the Agreement. [Filing No. 12-2 at 2.] On December 26, 2018, XPO filed its Motion to Dismiss and to Compel Arbitration, which is ripe for decision. [Filing No. 12.]

         II.

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