United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
for consideration the Report of the United States Magistrate
Judge in this action, this matter having been referred to the
United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636. On June 25, 2019, the Report and Recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge was entered (the “Report”)
(see Dkt. #20) recommending Defendant Dallas Medical
Center, LLC's (“Defendant”) Motion to Dismiss
and Compel Arbitration (the “Motion to Compel”)
(Dkt. #11) be granted in part and denied in part.
See Dkt. #20. The Report recommended this case be
stayed pending resolution of the arbitration proceeding.
Mercy Augustine (“Plaintiff”) filed objections to
the Report (the “Objections”). See Dkt.
#21. Defendant filed a response to the Objections (Dkt. #23).
The Court has made a de novo review of the
Objections and is of the opinion that the findings and
conclusions of the Magistrate Judge are correct and the
Objections are without merit as to the ultimate findings of
the Magistrate Judge. The Court hereby adopts the findings
and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge as the findings and
conclusions of the Court.
brings suit for Family Medical Leave Act interference,
discrimination, and retaliation. See Dkt. #1 at 3-4.
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a registered nurse.
See Dkt. #1 at 2. During her employment for
Defendant, Plaintiff signed a Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate
(the “Arbitration Agreement”) on March 23, 2014.
See Dkt. #13 at 2; Dkt. #11-2 at 6-7. Plaintiff does
not dispute that she signed the Arbitration Agreement.
See Dkt. #13. The signature on behalf of Defendant
is by an unidentified individual and is undated. See
Dkt. #11-2. According to the cover letter attached to the
Arbitration Agreement, signed by Defendant's CEO,
“all employees” were required to sign the
Arbitration Agreement as a condition of employment. See
Id. at 2. Plaintiff was terminated on December 14, 2018,
after refusing to sign a new arbitration agreement.
See Dkt. #1 at 4.
filed the Motion to Compel, requesting this case be dismissed
in favor of arbitration (Dkt. #11). In response, Plaintiff
argued she should not be required to arbitrate her claims
against Defendant. See generally Dkt. #13. The
Report found the Arbitration Agreement to be enforceable and
recommended this matter be stayed pending
arbitration. See Dkt. #20.
filed Objections to the Report, arguing the Report erred
because: (1) Plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial on the
issue of Defendant's signature; (2) Defendant may not
have directed the making of a signature on its behalf; (3)
Defendant introduced no evidence of adoption of the signature
and, even if it had, the agreement lacked mutuality; (4) the
date of Defendant's signature was a material fact; (5)
the Arbitration Agreement was illusory and lacked mutuality;
and (6) entering an Arbitration Agreement is not a routine
corporate matter, and therefore the Arbitration Agreement may
be void. See Dkt. #21. These are identical issues to
those briefed by the parties in the Motion to Compel and
responsive briefing, and were addressed by the Magistrate
Judge in the Report (Dkt. #20).
to Jury Trial
to the Federal Arbitration Act (the “FAA”), 9
U.S.C. § 1, et seq., written arbitration
provisions “shall be 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. The FAA provides that a party seeking to enforce an
arbitration provision may petition the court for “an
order directing the parties to proceed to arbitration in
accordance with the terms of the agreement.”
Id. § 4.
party contesting the ‘making' of [an] arbitration
agreement must ‘make at least some showing that under
prevailing law, he would be relieved of his contractual
obligations to arbitrate if his allegations proved to be true
and produce some evidence to substantiate his factual
allegations.'” Am. Heritage Life Ins. Co. v.
Orr, 294 F.3d 702, 710 (5th Cir. 2002) (internal
quotations omitted); see also Trammell v. AccentCare,
Inc., 2019 WL 2417408 (5th Cir. June 7, 2019). Thus, as
the party contesting the making and validity of the
Arbitration Agreement, it is Plaintiff's burden to
demonstrate both prevailing law supporting her contentions
and some evidence to substantiate her factual allegations.
fully addressed in the Report regarding each of
Plaintiff's theories below, Plaintiff has not submitted
any evidence to substantiate her assertion that the
Arbitration Agreement is not valid and enforceable. In
American Heritage, the Fifth Circuit addressed the
sufficiency of evidence presented in support of a demand for
trial under 9 U.S.C. § 4. Am. Heritage, 294
F.3d at 710. American Heritage held that
self-serving affidavits were insufficient evidence do not
amount to the type of evidence required to call the
“making” of an arbitration agreement into
question. Id. (citing Bhatia v. Johnston,
818 F.2d 418, 421-22 (5th Cir. 1987)).
case, Plaintiff submits no evidence to support her argument
attacking the making of the Arbitration Agreement.
Accordingly, Plaintiff's objection to the recommendation
she be denied a jury trial on the making of the Arbitration
Agreement is OVERRULED.