United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO
DISMISS AND COMPEL ARBITRATION
E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
Rita Allen seeks damages arising from injuries she allegedly
suffered while working as a licensed professional nurse for
Defendant Brookdale Senior Living (“Brookdale”)
from January of 2016 until her termination on March 11');">11, 2019.
Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims, arguing
that the claims are covered by a binding arbitration
agreement. Having reviewed the agreement and the parties'
arguments, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN
PART Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Compel
Arbitration [Doc. 10] and STAYS this case
pending the conclusion of arbitration.
worked for Brookdale from January 4, 2016 to March 11');">11, 2019,
when she was terminated. [Doc. 1, ¶¶ 14, 55].
During that time, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants
wrongfully denied or interfered with her rights under the
Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et
seq. (“FMLA”), and that Defendants
terminated her in retaliation for requesting and taking FMLA
leave. [Doc. 1, ¶¶ 65, 70, 76, 82]. She also claims
that Defendants intentionally inflicted emotional distress
upon her by “inhumanely and cruelly” forcing her
to “work without any days off, ” to
“[forgo] surgery for their personal convenience,
” and to “work while ill, ” while also
berating, abusing, and humiliating her to the point that she
wished to voluntarily admit herself to a mental health
hospital. [Id. at ¶¶ 89-92]. Finally,
Plaintiff claims that Brookdale negligently retained its
executive director, Defendant Joseph Adams
(“Adams”), despite knowing of his “abusive,
cruel and inhuman treatment” of Plaintiff, which
included threatening to “terminate her at his pleasure,
” increasing Plaintiff's duties “to overly
burdensome, onerous levels, ” and occasionally ordering
Plaintiff to work 36 hours straight. [Id. at
¶¶ 26, 28, 29, 99, 100]. Plaintiff seeks statutory
and compensatory damages in addition to reinstatement,
attorney's fees, and expenses as a result of these
August 10, 2016, Plaintiff executed a document titled
“Brookdale Dispute Resolution Agreement” (the
“Agreement”) that was also executed by
Brookdale's Executive Vice President Glenn O. Maul. [Doc.
10-2]. Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement, Plaintiff and
Brookdale agreed, in pertinent part, that
any legal dispute arising out of or
related to [Plaintiff's] employment (including, without
limitation, those arising from the Application for
Employment, my employment, or the termination of my
employment) must be resolved using final and
binding arbitration and not by a
court or jury trial. That includes any legal dispute that has
to do with . . . training, discipling, termination, . . .
discrimination, harassment, retaliation, . . . [and] any
claims that come about through the . . . Family and Medical
[Id. at ¶ 1] (emphasis in original).
Plaintiff's counsel initially agreed to arbitrate
Plaintiff's claims in compliance with the Agreement, for
some unknown reason, the parties failed to reach an agreement
on a joint stipulation of dismissal. See [Doc. 10-3,
pp. 5, 10-15]. Accordingly, Defendants filed the instant
motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, to which Plaintiff
now inexplicably objects despite her counsel's previous
written agreement. [Docs. 10, 11');">11]. In response to the motion,
Plaintiff argues that Adams may not invoke the Agreement
because he was not a party to it. Plaintiff further contends
that Defendants waived their right to arbitrate by failing to
do so before terminating her employment. And finally,
Plaintiff contends that if the Court compels arbitration, it
should stay the case rather than dismiss it.
Court disagrees with Plaintiff's first two arguments and
finds, as explained below, that the Agreement is valid and
enforceable by both Defendants and that Defendants have not
waived their rights under the Agreement. However, because the
Court construes Plaintiff's argument that the case should
be stayed rather than dismissed as an application for a stay,
the Court agrees that the proper course is to stay and
administratively close this case until the arbitration has
Standard of Review
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides that
written agreements to arbitrate disputes arising out of
transactions involving interstate commerce are “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. § 2. Under the FAA, if a suit
is brought in federal court “upon any issue referable
to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such
arbitration, ” then the court must stay the action
pending arbitration upon application of one of the parties
and “upon being satisfied that the issue involved in
such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration under
such an agreement.” 9 U.S.C. § 3.
is a matter of contract, and the Court must not compel
arbitration of disputes that the parties did not agree to
arbitrate. See, e.g., AT&T Techs., Inc. v.
Commc'ns Workers of Am., 475 U.S. 643, 648 (1986).
The determination of whether there is a valid arbitration
agreement between the parties is controlled “by the
‘ordinary state-law principles that govern the
formation of contracts.'” Dye v. Tamko Bldg.
Prod., Inc., 908 F.3d 675, 680 n.4 (11');">11th Cir. 2018)
(quoting Bazemore v. Jefferson Capital Sys., LLC,
1325');">827 F.3d 1325, 1329 (11');">11th Cir. 2016)).
The Agreement's Enforceability ...