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Mooney v. Jimmy Gray Chevrolet, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

February 13, 2017

KENYATTA LYNN MOONEY PLAINTIFF
v.
JIMMY GRAY CHEVROLET, INC., and JOHN DOES 1-10 DEFENDANTS

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

          DEBRA M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Jimmy Gray Chevrolet, Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration. Doc. #8. Because the parties entered into a valid arbitration agreement which, among other things, reserves the issue of arbitrability for arbitration, the motion will be granted.

         I

         Factual Allegations and Procedural Background

         A. Relevant Allegations

         Jimmy Gray Chevrolet, Inc. (“Gray Chevrolet”) is an automotive dealership located in Southaven, Mississippi. Doc. #1 at ¶ 5. On April 8, 2015, Kenyatta Mooney contacted Grant Boyland, one of Gray Chevrolet's employees, via Facebook Messenger, expressing her interest in purchasing a new car. Id. at ¶¶ 6, 8-10. On May 12, 2015, after Mooney provided Boyland with certain information he requested, [1] Boyland informed Mooney that she had been pre-approved for a 2015 maroon Chevy Malibu. Id. at ¶ 17-19. Mooney informed Boyland that she needed a few more weeks to procure the down payment and, on May 27, 2015, advised Boyland that she had done so. Id. at ¶¶ 20-21.

         On June 2, 2015, after Boyland assured her financing had been approved, Mooney went to Gray Chevrolet to pick up the new car. Id. at ¶ 22-23. There, she signed a “Retail Installment Sale Contract - Simple Finance Charge (with Arbitration Provision)” (“Sale Contract”), received the car keys, and drove the car off the lot. Id. at ¶¶ 24‒25; Doc. #1-1.

         The Sale Contract signed by Mooney includes the following relevant provisions:

Agreement to Arbitrate: By signing below, you agree that, pursuant to the Arbitration Provision on the reverse side of this contract, you or we may elect to resolve any dispute by neutral, binding arbitration and not by a court action. See the Arbitration Provision for additional information concerning the agreement to arbitrate. …
You agree to the terms of this contract and any dispute resolution agreement you signed with this contract. You confirm that before you signed this contract and any dispute resolution agreement, we gave them to you, and you were free to take them and review them. You acknowledge that you have read both sides of this contract, including the arbitration provision on the reverse side, before signing below.
ARBITRATION PROVISION
PLEASE REVIEW - IMPORTANT - AFFECTS YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS
1. EITHER YOU OR WE MAY CHOOSE TO HAVE ANY DISPUTE BETWEEN U.S. DECIDED BY ARBITRATION AND NOT IN COURT OR BY JURY TRIAL.
2. IF A DISPUTE IS ARBITRATED, YOU WILL GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE AS A CLASS REPRESENTATIVE OR CLASS MEMBER ON ANY CLAIM YOU MAY HAVE AGAINST U.S. ….
3. DISCOVERY AND RIGHTS TO APPEAL IN ARBITRATION ARE GENERALLY MORE LIMITED THAN IN A LAWSUIT, AND OTHER RIGHTS THAT YOU AND WE MAY HAVE IN COURT MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN ARBITRATION.
Any claim or dispute, whether in contract, tort, statute or otherwise (including the interpretation and scope of this Arbitration Provision, and the arbitrability of the claim or dispute), between you and us or our employees, agents, successors or assigns, which arises out of or relates to your credit application, purchase or condition of vehicle, this contract or any resulting transaction or relationship … shall, at your or our election, be resolved by neutral binding arbitration and not by a court action. … Neither you nor we waive the right to arbitrate by using self-help remedies, such as repossession, or by filing an action to recover the vehicle, to recover a deficiency balance, or for individual injunctive relief.

Doc. #1-1; Doc. #8-1 at 2, 4.[2]

         On June 12, 2015, after receiving a check from Gray Chevrolet for state dealer taxes, registering the Malibu in her name, and receiving a thank you letter from Gray Chevrolet, Mooney received a text message from Boyland stating “that the finance company returned her contract.” Doc. #1 at ¶¶ 27‒28, 30‒31, 33. Three days later, Mooney returned to the dealership and spoke with the finance manager, who asked Mooney to return the copy of the signed contract “in order to do another deal, ” informing her that if she did not return all paperwork, she would forfeit her down payment. Id. at ¶¶ 38‒39, 44, 46, 48‒49. Mooney refused to return the contract and told the finance manager she was leaving to contact her attorney. Id. at ¶¶ 46‒47, 49. Within minutes of Mooney leaving the dealership, “Defendants” reported the car as stolen to the Southaven Police Department and OnStar Vehicle Security Company. Id. at ¶ 56. As a result, Mooney was arrested and charged with felony theft of a motor vehicle. Id. at ¶¶ 62, 69.

         B. This Action

         On January 8, 2016, Mooney filed a complaint in this Court[3] against Gray Chevrolet and John Does 1-10 “in their individual and employment capacities, ” seeking compensatory and punitive damages under ten theories of liability: malicious prosecution (Count 1), negligence (Count 2), gross negligence (Count 3), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 4), defamation (Count 5), civil conspiracy (Count 6), civil assault and battery (Count 7), false arrest/false imprisonment (Count 8), abuse of process (Count 9), and breach of contract (Count 10). Doc. #1. On February 10, 2016, Gray Chevrolet filed its answer, asserting, among other things, the defense that Mooney's claims must be arbitrated. Doc. #4 at 1.

         On March 3, 2016, Gray Chevrolet filed a motion to compel arbitration with a supporting memorandum. Doc. #8; Doc. #9. That day, United States Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander issued an order staying this case “pending a ruling on the motion to compel arbitration.” Doc. #10. On March 28, 2016, Mooney filed a response to the motion to ...


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