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Huttsell v. Radcliff Company Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

March 8, 2017

CLARA HUTTSELL PLAINTIFF
v.
RADCLIFF COMPANY, INC. D/B/A ST. MATTHEWS SEAFOOD DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of Defendant Radcliff Company, Inc. (Radcliff) to dismiss the claims asserted by Plaintiff Clara Huttsell or to stay the proceedings and compel the claims into arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq., ECF No. 6. Huttsell did not respond. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Radcliff's motion to stay the proceedings and compel the claims into arbitration.

         II. Background

         A. Allegations in the Complaint and Procedural History

         Huttsell asserts that she worked for Radcliff between 1999 and November 2015. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1-2. At some point, she was promoted to general manager. Id. ¶ 6. In May 2015, Radcliff asked Huttsell to manage and to better the performance of a store in St. Matthews, Kentucky that had been poorly maintained and was in disrepair. Id. ¶¶ 7-8, 10.

         Huttsell says she began the “lengthy process of turning the store around.” Id. ¶ 11. Under her management, sales apparently increased, and the “maintenance began making noticeable improvements in the appearance and condition of the store.” Id. ¶¶ 12-13.

         Huttsell, however, began experiencing health issues that required her to take time off and to use her company benefits. Id. ¶ 15. She also maintains that Radcliff considered her age to “be a detriment.” Id. ¶ 14. Sometime after she started working in her new management position, Radcliff began inspecting the St. Matthews store. Id. ¶ 17. It faulted her for conditions that it had previously tolerated and permitted before she began managing the store. Id. Radcliff also blamed Huttsell for the poor training of the store's employees, even though she claims that she had not yet had time to train them. Id. ¶ 18. Radcliff eventually terminated her. Id. ¶ 16. She asserts that Radcliff's decision to terminate her was based on her age and use of her company benefits. Id.

         Huttsell filed suit against Radcliff in the Jefferson County, Kentucky Circuit Court. She alleges that Radcliff was negligent (Count I), Compl. ¶¶ 21-26, ECF No. 1-2, wrongfully terminated her (Count II), id. ¶¶ 27-33, and discriminated against her in violation of § 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1140 (Count III), id. ¶¶ 34-39. Huttsell also alleges that Radcliff violated Kentucky Revised Statutes §§ 337.055 and 337.060 by refusing to pay her for her accrued time off and by unlawfully deducting the cost of spoiled inventory from her earnings (Count IV). Id. ¶¶ 40-44. She seeks compensatory damages, equitable relief, and attorney fees. Id. at 7.

         Radcliff removed the action to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(c) and 1446. Not. Removal 1, ECF No. 1-2. Radcliff then filed an answer in this Court. Answer, ECF No. 7.

         B. Radcliff's Dispute Resolution Program

         In September 2000, Huttsell signed a document entitled the “Dispute Resolution Program Booklet” (the “dispute resolution agreement”). Dispute Resolution Agreement 12, ECF No. 6-1. The dispute resolution agreement provided that any “differences” that could arise between Radcliff and Huttsell “during or following [her] employment with the company” would “be resolved as provided in the Dispute Resolution Policy.” Id. at 11. The document also contained an arbitration clause in which Huttsell and Radcliff agreed that “all legal claims or disputes covered by the Agreement” would be “submitted to binding Arbitration” and that arbitration would be the “sole and exclusive final remedy for resolving any such claim or dispute.” Id. The document listed legal claims subject to arbitration as:

Claims for wages or other compensation; claims for breach of any contract, covenant or warrant (express or implied); tort claims (including, but not limited to, claims for physical, mental, or psychological injury, without regard to whether such injury was sustained in the scope of employment); claims for wrongful termination (including, but not limited to, retaliatory discharge claims); sexual harassment; discrimination (including, but not limited to, claims based on race, sex, religion, national origin, age, medical condition or disability whether under federal, state or local law); claims for benefits under any associate benefit program sponsored by the Company (after exhausting administrative ...

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