United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
KATHRYN H. VRATIL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 30, 2019, Daniel Peterson filed suit against Minerva
Surgical, Inc. and David Clapper. Complaint (Doc.
#1). Plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to make
reasonable employment accommodations for his disabilities,
retaliated against him by terminating his employment and
interfered with his future employment. This matter is before
the Court on Defendants' Motion To Dismiss Or, In The
Alternative, Stay Proceedings And Compel Arbitration
(Doc. #11) filed May 3, 2019. For reasons stated below, the
Court sustains defendants' motion.
summarized, plaintiff's complaint alleges as follows:
was an employee of Minerva for over two and a half years.
During the course of this employment, plaintiff suffered from
one or more disabling conditions, which included anxiety and
a condition stemming from a severe cervical spine injury that
he sustained during military service. During his employment,
plaintiff made requests for reasonable accommodations and in
April of 2018, took a leave of absence. Over the next several
months, plaintiff sought additional reasonable accommodations
to allow him to return to work. Minerva denied these
requests, however, and instead made managerial realignments.
To remove himself from an unhealthy work environment,
plaintiff sought alternative employment during his leave of
absence, including with Arrinex Incorporated. David Clapper,
Minerva's Chief Executive Officer, told Arrinex that
plaintiff had cheated on business expenses while working for
plaintiff's attempts to resolve the accommodation issues,
Minerva did not allow him to return to work, and claimed that
it had returned plaintiff to unpaid leave status. Minerva
then claimed that plaintiff had voluntarily resigned.
Plaintiff filed suit against Minerva and Clapper, alleging
that they failed to make reasonable employment accommodations
for his disabilities, retaliated by terminating his
employment and interfered with his future employment.
ask the Court to dismiss or stay this action because
plaintiff's employment agreement contained an enforceable
arbitration clause, which encompasses all of his claims. The
employment agreement contains a section titled
“Arbitration and Equitable Relief, ” which states
I agree that any and all controversies, claims, or disputes
with anyone (including the company and any employee, officer,
director, shareholder, or benefit plan of the company, in
their capacity as such or otherwise), whether brought on an
individual, group, or class basis, arising out of, relating
to, or resulting from my employment with the company or the
termination of my employment with the company, including any
breach of this agreement, shall be subject to binding
arbitration . . . pursuant to California law.
Exh. A to Defendants' Motion To Compel
Arbitration (Doc. #11) at 7. The agreement also contains
a forum selection clause which specifies that “any
arbitration under this Agreement shall be conducted in San
Mateo County, California.” Id.
assert that the Court should dismiss or stay this case and
compel arbitration because they entered into a valid
arbitration agreement with plaintiff, which the Court should
enforce pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act
(“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 3. Congress enacted
the FAA “in response to widespread judicial hostility
to arbitration agreements.” Beltran v. AuPairCare,
Inc., 907 F.3d 1240, 1250 (10th Cir. 2018) (quoting
AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333,
339 (2011)). Under the FAA, a written provision in “any
. . . contract evidencing a transaction involving commerce to
settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter arising out of
such contract or transaction . . . shall be valid,
irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist
at law or in equity for the revocation of any
contract.” Id. (quoting 9 U.S.C. § 2).
Thus, the FAA directs the Court to determine (1) whether the
parties “are bound by a given arbitration clause”
and (2) whether the arbitration clause “applies to a
particular type of controversy.” Id. (quoting
Howsam v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 537 U.S. 79,
84 (2002)). If the controversy is subject to an enforceable
arbitration agreement, the Court will “stay the trial
of the action until such arbitration has been had in
accordance with the terms of the agreement.” 9 U.S.C.
Enforceability Of Arbitration And Forum Selection
assert that they entered into an enforceable arbitration
agreement with plaintiff. When parties have entered into an
arbitration agreement, the Court determines whether it is
unenforceable “upon such grounds as exist at law or in
equity for the revocation of any contract.”
Beltran, 907 F.3d at 1250-51. Accordingly, the Court
can invalidate an arbitration agreement under
“generally applicable contract defenses, such as fraud,
duress, or unconscionability.” Id. at 1251.
State law governs these defenses. Id. Here, the
parties do not dispute that pursuant to the choice-of-law
provision in ...