United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
McBRYDE United State District Judge.
for consideration the complaint and motion of plaintiff,
20/20 Communications, Inc., to vacate arbitration award. The
court, having considered the complaint and motion, the answer
and response of defendant, Lennox Crawford, the reply, the
record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion
should be denied and.the clause construction award (as
hereinafter defined) upheld.
of the Case
an action to set aside the October 18, 2017 Clause
Construction Award (the "award") entered against
plaintiff and in favor of defendant in AAA Case No.
01-16-0001-8118 (the "arbitration"). Plaintiff says
that the parties' dispute is over the proper scope of the
arbitration, contending that the arbitrator erred in
determining that the parties' Mutual Arbitration
Agreement ("MAA") permits class arbitration. In
particular, it alleges that the award conflicts with
Stolt-Nielsen, S.A. v, AnimalFeeds Int'1 Corp.,
559 U.S. 662 (2010), and its progeny. In addition, plaintiff
urges that the arbitrator overstepped his authority by
striking the MAA's class waiver provision.
employed defendant as a field sales manager. In connection
with his employment, defendant entered into a number of
agreements with plaintiff, including the MAA.
1 at 4. Defendant commenced the underlying arbitration on May
13, 2016, by filing an arbitration submission alleging
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§§ 201-19 ("FLSA"). Doc. 17 at 2-8. On
August 11, 2016, defendant amended his submission to clarify
that he sought to proceed with a collective action.
Id. at 12-21.
August 31, 2016, plaintiff filed in this court an action
styled "2 0/2 0 Communications, Inc. v. Blevins, et al.,
" which was assigned Case No. 4:16-CV-810-A (the
"Blevins action"). Blevins Doc. 1. In that case,
plaintiff alleged that each of the defendants, including
defendant here, had filed an arbitration proceeding alleging
violation of the FLSA and recently amended to state class
claims. Plaintiff alleged that the MAA between plaintiff and
each defendant foreclosed class and collective arbitration.
It sought a declaration that the court and not the
arbitrators was to determine whether class arbitration was
available and it sought injunctive relief to prohibit
defendants from pursuing class arbitration of claims.
Id. Plaintiff filed in the Blevins action a motion
for temporary restraining order, Blevins Doc. 27, which was
denied. Blevins Doc. 35. The court also denied
plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunctive relief.
Blevins Doc. 52. Plaintiff filed an interlocutory appeal and
the court ordered that the case be closed administratively
pending such appeal. Blevins Doc. 56. The interlocutory
appeal has been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, Blevins
Docs. 57, 58, and the parties to that action have filed a
motion to reopen the case. Blevins Doc. 59.
opinion and order issued January 13, 2017, the arbitrator
ruled that he had jurisdiction to determine the arbitrability
of the issues presented. Doc. 4 at 11-20. The arbitrator made
reference to the rulings in the Blevins action in denying
plaintiff's motion for stay. Id. at 17. As
stated, on October 18, 2017, the arbitrator entered the award
in favor of defendant, holding that the MAA must be read to
permit class/collective arbitration. Id. at 2-9. The
arbitrator granted a thirty-day stay to give the parties an
opportunity to seek judicial review, id. at 9, and
plaintiff filed this action.
the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16
("FAA"), a court may vacate an award only in very
unusual circumstances. Oxford Health Plans LLC v.
Sutter, 569 U.S. 564, 568 (2013). Review of an
arbitration award is exceedingly deferential, with courts
resolving any doubt or uncertainty in favor of upholding the
award. Brabham v. A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., 376
F.3d 377, 385 n.9 (5th Cir. 2004); Action Indus., Inc. v.
U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Ins. Co., 358 F.3d 337, 343
(5th Cir. 2004). The party challenging the award bears a
heavy burden. Cooper v. WestEnd Capital Mqtnt .,
L.L.C., 832 F.3d 534, 545 (5th Cir. 2016). The sole
question for the court is ...