United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Hyundai Capital America Inc.'s
Motion to Compel Arbitration and Dismiss Complaint or, in the
Alternative, Stay Pending Arbitration. (Doc. 13.) For the
following reasons, Defendant's motion is
GRANTED and the parties are
DIRECTED to submit this claim for
arbitration according to the terms of their arbitration
agreement. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to
close this case.
case involves Plaintiff Joyce Walker's finance and
purchase of a new Hyundai Santa Fe from Savannah Hyundai in
Savannah, Georgia. (Doc. 13 at 3.) As part of the
transaction, Plaintiff executed a Retail Installment Sales
Contract ("RISC"), and a Vehicle Purchase Agreement
and Invoice ("Purchase Agreement"). (Id.
at 3-4.) The RISC was between Plaintiff and Savannah Hyundai,
who contemporaneously assigned its interest in the RISC to
Defendant Hyundai Capital America Inc.  (Id. at
4.) The Purchase Agreement was also between Plaintiff and
Savannah Hyundai, and identifies Defendant as the lien
holder. (Id., Ex. B at 1.) Importantly, the Purchase
Agreement included the following arbitration clause:
THE PURCHASER(S) AND SAVANNAH HYUNDAI, INC. AGREE THAT ANY
DISPUTE OR CLAIM CONCERNING THE PURCHASE, LEASE, FINANCING OR
SERVICE OF THE VEHICLE DESCRIBED IN THIS AGREEMENT WILL BE
SETTLED BY BINDING ARBITRATION. THE ARBITRATION PROCEEDING
SHALL BE CONDUCTED UNDER THE COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION RULES OF
THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION IN EFFECT AT THE TIME OF
THE ARBITRATION DEMAND. A DECISION AND AWARD OF THE
ARBITRATOR MADE UNDER THE SAID RULE SHALL BE EXCLUSIVE,
FINAL, AND- BINDING ON BOTH PARTIES, THEIR HEIRS, EXECUTORS,
ADMINISTRATORS, SUCCESSORS, AND ASSIGNS. THE COSTS AND
EXPENSE OF THE ARBITRATION SHALL BE BORNE EVENLY BY THE
Plaintiff defaulted on the loan. (Doc. 13 at 3.) As a result,
Defendant contacted Plaintiff via telephone in an attempt to
collect the debt. (Id.) Finding these calls
harassing, Plaintiff filed suit in this Court seeking
recovery under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
("TCPA), 47 U.S.C. § 227. (Id.
motion, Defendant argues that the arbitration clause
contained in the Purchase Agreement requires Plaintiff to
submit her claim to arbitration. (Doc. 13 at 8-13.) In
response, Plaintiff contends that the arbitration provision
is inapplicable in this case because the Purchase Agreement
was between only Plaintiff and Savannah Hyundai. (Doc. 18 at
2.) Plaintiff reasons that Defendant is unable to compel
arbitration because it was neither a signatory nor an
intended beneficiary of the Purchase Agreement.
seeking to compel arbitration are governed by the Federal
Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. §§
1-16. The FAA manifests a strong federal policy favoring the
enforcement of arbitration agreements. Walthour v. Chipio
Windshield Repair, LLC, 745 F.3d 1326, 1329 (11th Cir.
2014) (quoting Caley v. Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.,
428 F.3d 1359, 1367 (11th Cir. 2005)). In this respect,
courts are directed to resolve close questions concerning
arbitrability in favor of arbitration. Emp/rs
Ins. of Wausau v. Bright Metal Specialties, Inc., 251
F.3d 1316, 1322 (11th Cir. 2001).
a party is not required to arbitrate claims it did not agree
to arbitrate. Paladino v. Avnet Computer Techs.,
Inc., 134 F.3d 1054, 1057 (11th Cir. 1998). Whether a
party has agreed to arbitrate a dispute is a matter of
contract law. Klay v. All Defendants, 389 F.3d 1191,
1200 (11th Cir. 2004). While federal policy favors
arbitration, applicable state law determines whether the
parties have an enforceable contract or agreement to
arbitrate a given dispute. Caley, 428 F.3d at 1368.
Therefore, courts must apply the law of the particular state
that governs the purported arbitration agreement.
Id. Even then, the "federal policy favoring
arbitration ... is taken into consideration [when] applying
ordinary state law." Id. (quoting Cooper v.
MRM Inv. Co., 367 F.3d 493, 498 (6th Cir. 2004)) .
party seeking to avoid arbitration must deny the existence of
a valid agreement to arbitrate, identifying some evidence in
the record to substantiate that denial. Magnolia
Capital Advisors, Inc. v. Bear Sterns & Co., 272
Fed.Appx. 782, 785 (11th Cir. 2008). The evidence in the
record must be sufficient to render colorable that
party's denial of the existence of a valid agreement.
Id. (quoting Wheat, First Sec, Inc. v.
Green, 993 F.2d 814, 819 (11th Cir. 1993)). The district
court must resolve all doubt and inferences in the favor of
the party denying the existence of a valid agreement.
Id. at 785-86.
Wells Fargo Auto Finance, Inc. v. Wright, the
Georgia Court of Appeals was presented with a
factual scenario strikingly similar to this case. 304 Ga.App.
621, 698 S.E.2d 17 (2010). Mr. Wright purchased a vehicle
from a local Chevrolet dealer. Id. at 621, 698
S.E.2d at 18. As part of the transaction, Mr. Wright and the
dealer executed a RISC and a separate arbitration agreement.
Id. The dealer assigned the RISC to Wells Fargo.
Wright later attempted to rescind the RISC after he
discovered that his vehicle had previously been involved in
an accident. Id. Alleging deceptive business
practices, Mr. Wright filed suit against Wells Fargo, who
sought to compel arbitration based on the arbitration
agreement executed ...