United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the parties' Joint Motion to Lift
Stay to Reconsider Order Referring Determination of the
Gateway Issue of the Arbitrability to Arbitrator (Dkt. #47).
considered the Joint Motion in light of the United States
Supreme Court's recent decision in New Prime Inc. v.
Oliveira, 139 S.Ct. 532 (2019), the Court finds that the
parties' Joint Motion should be GRANTED.
5, 2013, Plaintiff Felton Thomas (“Thomas”) began
working as a dispatcher for Defendant PFG Transco, Inc.,
working out of the 500 Metro Park Drive, McKinney, Texas
warehouse. According to the terms of Thomas's employment,
the parties agreed to mandatory, final, and binding
arbitration of disputes for on-the-job injuries pursuant to
PFG Transco Inc.'s Texas Injury Benefit Plan (the
“Benefit Plan”) as a non-subscriber under the
Texas Workers' Compensation Statute. Thomas signed an
acknowledgment of having agreed to mandatory arbitration of
such disputes (Dkt. #7-1, Exhibit 3). Appendix A to the
Benefit Plan states:
The Employer hereby adopts a mandatory company policy
requiring that the following claims or disputes must be
submitted to final and binding arbitration under this
Appendix: (A) any legal or equitable claim or dispute
relating to enforcement or interpretation of the arbitration
provisions in a Receipt, Safety Pledge and Arbitration
Acknowledgement form or this Appendix; and (B) any legal or
equitable claim by or with respect to an Associate for any
form of physical or psychological damage, harm or death which
relates to an accident, occupational disease, or cumulative
trauma (including, but not limited to, claims of negligence
or gross negligence or discrimination; claims for intentional
acts, assault, battery, negligent
hiring/training/supervision/retention, emotional distress,
retaliatory discharge, or violation of any other noncriminal
federal, state or other governmental common law, statute,
regulation or ordinance in connection with a job-related
injury, regardless of whether the common law doctrine was
recognized or whether the statute, regulation or ordinance
was enacted before or after the effective date of this
Appendix). This includes all claims listed above that an
Associate has now or in the future against an Employer, its
officers, directors, owners, Associates, representatives,
agents, subsidiaries, affiliates, successors, or assigns. . .
The determination of whether a claim is covered by this
Appendix shall also be subject to arbitration under this
Appendix. Neither an Associate nor an Employer shall be
entitled to a bench or jury trial on any claim covered by
(Dkt. #7-1, Exhibit 1 at p. 58).
March 25, 2018, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order staying further proceedings against Defendants PFG
Transco, Inc., Performance Food Group, Inc., and PFGC, Inc.
(collectively “PFG”) pending the arbitrator's
decision whether Thomas's claims against PFG fall within
the scope of the arbitration agreement (Dkt. #28). On April
3, 2019, the parties filed a joint motion to lift the stay
(Dkt. #47) in light of the United States Supreme Court's
decision in New Prime v. Oliveira, 139 S.Ct. 532
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) expresses a
strong national policy favoring arbitration of disputes, and
all doubts concerning the arbitrability of claims should be
resolved in favor of arbitration.” Wash. Mut. Fin.
Group, LLC v. Bailey, 364 F.3d 260, 263 (5th Cir. 2004).
The FAA, “leaves no place for the exercise of
discretion by a district court, but instead mandates that
district courts shall direct the parties to proceed to
arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement
has been signed.” Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v.
Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985).
considering a motion to compel arbitration, the Court must
address two questions. Graves v. BP America, Inc.,
568 F.3d 221, 222 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Fleetwood
Enterprises Inc. v. Gaskamp, 280 F.3d 1069, 1073 (5th
Cir. 2002)). “First, whether there is a valid agreement
to arbitrate, and second, whether the dispute in question
falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.”
Id. Concerning the first question of contract
validity, the Court should apply “ordinary state-law
principles that govern the formation of contracts.”
Id. (citing First Options of Chicago, Inc. v.
Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995)). The second question
of scope is answered ...