United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Boom, District Judge.
Luay Nsaif began working at The Cheesecake Factory
(“TCF”) in Louisville, Kentucky, he signed a
Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Claims (“Arbitration
Agreement”) in which he agreed to arbitrate any claims
that he may have against TCF as a result of his employment.
Nsaif later sued TCF in Kentucky state court, alleging that
TCF discriminated against him based on his race and religion,
that TCF created a hostile work environment, and that TCF
caused intentional infliction of emotional distress. TCF
removed this action and now moves to dismiss the case and
compel arbitration. Nsaif's primary argument in response
is that since he cannot read or write English, the
Arbitration Agreement he signed was both procedurally and
substantively unconscionable. Under well-established Kentucky
law, however, “one who signs a contract is presumed to
know its contents, and . . . if he has had an opportunity to
read the contract which he signs is bound by its provisions,
unless he is misled as to the nature of the writing which he
signs or his signature has been obtained by fraud.”
Hathaway v. Eckerle, 336 S.W.3d 83, 89-90 (Ky. 2011)
(quoting Clark v. Brewer, 329 S.W.2d 384, 387 (Ky.
1959)). Nsaif had a duty to request that someone read him the
contract before he signed it. If he signed the contract
anyway, he is bound by its terms. That is precisely what
happened in this case. The Court, therefore, grants TCF's
motion to dismiss and compel arbitration.
Nsaif began his employment with TCF on August 20, 2013, he
received an Arbitration Agreement and signed it. [R. 5, at p.
1] This agreement required Nsaif and TCF to “arbitrate
before a neutral arbitrator any and all disputes or claims
between [TCF] and [Nsaif] that arise out of or relate to
[Nsaif's] . . . employment . . .with [TCF] . . .”
[R. 5-1, Ex. A, at. pp.1-2] Pursuant to the Arbitration
Agreement, covered claims include ones for “violation
of public policy, ” “infliction of emotional
distress, ” “discrimination, ” and
“[c]laims under any and all federal, state, or
municipal statutes, regulations, or ordinances, including but
not limited to laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment,
or retaliation in employment (for example, those related to
or based upon . . . a person's race, sex, religion,
national origin, age . . . or being in another protected
class) . . .” Id. at p. 3. (emphasis added).
Nsaif signed this Arbitration Agreement the day he was hired.
September 19, 2018, Nsaif sued TCF in Kentucky state court.
[R. 1-1] In his complaint, Nsaif brought two claims for
discrimination, one claim for hostile work environment, and
one claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress,
all under Kentucky state law. See Id. at pp. 6-7,
¶¶ 46 - 70. The hostile work environment Nsaif
complains about arises from two interactions with TCF
supervisors following Nsaif's complaints over his steady
decline in available work hours. See id., at pp.
3-6, ¶¶ 5 - 45. Nsaif alleges he notified his
supervisors of the two interactions, but no corrective action
was taken. Id. As a result, Nsaif alleges he has
experienced “shortness of breath, emotional exhaustion,
and anxiety due to [his supervisors'] behavior . .
.” Id. He has not returned to work, though he
was never terminated. See id.
removed this action from Jefferson County Circuit Court on
October 17, 2017 on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. [R.
1] Shortly thereafter, TCF filed a Motion to Dismiss and
Compel Arbitration pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1),
12(b)(3), or 56. [R. 4; R. 5] Nsaif filed a Response
opposing the Motion. [R. 8]
circuit, “[i]n order to show that the validity of the
agreement is ‘in issue,' the party opposing
arbitration must show a genuine issue of material fact as to
the validity of the agreement to arbitrate, ” a showing
that mirrors the summary judgment standard. Great Earth
Cos. v. Simons, 288 F.3d 878, 889 (6th Cir. 2002).
Therefore, district courts in Kentucky evaluate a motion to
compel arbitration as one for summary judgment under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See Freeman v. Easy Mobile Labs,
Inc., No. 1:16-CV-00018-GNS, 2016 WL 4479545, at *1
(W.D. Ky. Aug. 24, 2016) (citing Arnold v. Rent-a-Center,
Inc., No. 11-18-JBC, 2011 WL 1810145, at *2 (E.D. Ky.
May 12, 2011) (“This court will treat the motion to
compel arbitration as one for summary judgment ....”));
Weddle Enters., Inc. v. Treviicos-Soletanche, J.V.,
No. 1:14CV-00061-JHM, 2014 WL 5242904, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Oct.
15, 2014) (“A motion to dismiss based on the existence
of a valid arbitration agreement is not evaluated under the
usual Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) standard. Instead, courts apply
the standard applicable to motions for summary
judgment.”) (internal citation omitted) (citation
omitted). “In order to show that the validity of the
agreement is in issue, the party opposing arbitration must
show a genuine issue of material fact as to the validity of
the agreement to arbitrate.” Great Earth Cos., 288 F.3d
at 889. (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) was enacted
“to ensure judicial enforcement of privately made
agreements to arbitrate.” Dean Witter Reynolds,
Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 219 (1985). The statute
“embodies [a] national policy favoring arbitration . .
.” Richmond Health Facilities v. Nichols, 811
F.3d 192, 195 (6th. Cir. 2016) (citing Seawright v. Am.
Gen. Fin. Servs., Inc., 507 F.3d 967');">507 F.3d 967, 972 (6th Cir.
2007)). The FAA applies to written agreements to arbitrate
disputes that arise out of contracts involving transactions
in interstate commerce.Under its terms, such agreements
“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
“leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a
district court, but instead mandates that a district court
shall direct the parties to proceed to arbitration on issues
as to which an arbitration agreement has been signed.”
Byrd, 470 U.S. at 218 (emphasis in original).
party invokes the FAA and asks a federal court to dismiss or
stay a case and compel arbitration, the court must determine
whether the parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute at issue.
Stout v. J.D. Byrider, 228 F.3d 709, 714 (6th Cir.
2000). This requires an examination of the contract language
in light of the strong federal policy favoring arbitration,
resolving any ambiguities in the contract or doubts as to the
parties' intentions in favor of arbitration. Id.
Courts should engage in the following four-step inquiry: (1)
determine whether the parties agreed to arbitrate; (2)
determine the scope of that agreement; (3) if federal
statutory claims are asserted, the court must consider
whether Congress intended those claims to be non-arbitrable;
and (4), if the court concludes that some, but not all, of
the claims in the action are subject to arbitration, it must
determine whether to stay the remainder of the proceedings
pending arbitration. Id.
Motion to ...