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Harper v. Academy of Training School, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

October 16, 2017

CAROLYN HARPER
v.
ACADEMY OF TRAINING SCHOOL, LLC, ET AL

          UNASSIGNED, DISTRICT JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss or Alternately to Stay filed by defendants Academy of Training School, LLC and Progressive Buildings, LLC. Doc. 20. The motion is opposed by plaintiff Carolyn Harper. Doc. 31. For the reasons that follow the motion is DENIED.

         I.

         Background

         Plaintiff filed suit against defendants alleging that they failed to pay her overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 201, et seq. Doc. 1. Plaintiff worked for Academy of Training School, LLC as a licensed practical nurse from June 2011 until April 2016. Doc. 1, ¶¶ 8-9. When she originally applied for employment on May 4, 2011 she executed a “Terms of Employment Notice” which stated, in part:

In signing this you agree that any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to your employment with this company shall be settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association under its Employment dispute Resolution Rules and judgment on the award rendered by the arbitrator(s) may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof.

Doc. 20, att. 3. Plaintiff signed another “Terms of Employment Notice” on December 21, 2011 which contained the exact same clause.[1] Doc. 20, att. 4. Again, on February 27, 2014, plaintiff executed a third “Terms of Employment Notice” which contained a similar clause:

In signing this, you [] agree that any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to your employment with this company shall be settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association under its Employment Dispute Resolution Act.

Doc. 20, att. 5.

         Suit proceeded in this court with plaintiff filing an amended complaint on October 6, 2016. Doc. 3. Defendants answered the original and amended complaints [docs. 4, 5] and the matter was set for jury trial. Doc. 10. Defendants filed a motion to extend expert deadlines [doc. 15] and plaintiff filed a motion to compel and a motion to extend the Daubert motion deadline. Doc. 17. The trial date was upset by the court due to pending motions and a scheduling conference is presently set to choose a new trial date. Doc. 18.

         The motion before the court was filed on July 25, 2017, over 10 months after suit was originally filed. Doc. 20. In their motion, defendants maintain that the arbitration agreement that plaintiff signed should be enforced and the suit should be dismissed or stayed pending the decision by an arbitrator. Defendants acknowledge that they have responded to the complaint and that they have engaged in the discovery process, however, they assert that they did not become aware of the arbitration provision until plaintiff's deposition which took place on June 29, 2017.

         In opposition to the motion plaintiff makes two arguments: (1) that there was never any agreement to arbitrate; and (2) that defendants have waived their right to compel arbitration. We will address each of these arguments in turn.

         II.

         Law ...


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