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Barron v. Best Buy Co., Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

April 5, 2017

GUY BARRON PLAINTIFF
v.
BESTBUY CO., INC., ET AL. DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          Daniel P. Jordan III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This suit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act is before the Court on motion of Defendants Citigroup, Inc./Citibank, N.A. (“Citibank”) and Best Buy Co., Inc./Bestbuy.com LLC (“Best Buy”) (collectively “Defendants”) to compel arbitration [27] of Plaintiff Guy Barron's claims.[1] Plaintiff responded in opposition. The Court, having considered the submissions of the parties and the pertinent authorities, finds that the motion to compel arbitration [27] should be granted.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         Barron held a credit-card account with Best Buy that was owned and serviced by Citibank. According to Plaintiff, he ceased using the card in June 2014, and paid off his debt to Defendants in November 2014. Pl.'s Mem. [31] at 10. Nevertheless, Defendants posted a $74.89 charge to the account on July 15, 2015. Am. Compl., Ex. B [21-2] at 2. Defendants then initiated three drafts from Barron's bank account in September, October, and November 2015, to satisfy the debt. Am. Compl., Ex. A [21-1] at 1-3. Before the November 2015 payment was withdrawn, Barron placed a stop-payment order on the pending debit, Am. Compl. [21] at 4, and disputed the $74.89 charge with Best Buy/Citibank, Am. Compl., Ex. B [21-2] at 2. Defendants investigated the disputed charge and ultimately credited Barron's account on February 6, 2016. Am. Compl., Ex. B [21-2] at 1.

         While the investigation was taking place, Barron applied for two loans, but both lenders denied his request citing derogatory information on his credit report. Barron later discovered that Defendants had reported that he was “30 days late” in paying the card in December 2015. Am. Compl. [21] at 6. Believing this information was incorrect, Barron disputed the notation with the three credit reporting agencies and Defendants. In August 2016, Defendants notified Barron that they were “unable to change the information reported to the credit reporting agencies . . ., as it accurately reflects your account history with us.” Am. Compl., Ex. E [21-5] at 1. Aggrieved, Barron filed this suit alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

         Based on the arbitration provision in the credit-card agreement, Defendants moved to compel arbitration of the dispute, which Barron opposes. The motion is fully briefed, and the Court is prepared to rule.

         II. Applicable Standard

         Determining whether to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act involves a two-step process. 9 U.S.C. § 3. First, the Court decides whether the parties agreed to arbitrate the dispute in question. Am. Heritage Life Ins. Co. v. Lang, 321 F.3d 533, 537 (5th Cir. 2003). “This determination involves two considerations: (1) whether there is a valid agreement to arbitrate between the parties; and (2) whether the dispute in question falls within the scope of that arbitration agreement.” Id. (citing Webb v. Investacorp, Inc., 89 F.3d 252, 258 (5th Cir. 1996)). Second, “[i]f both questions are answered in the affirmative, [the] court then asks whether any federal statute or policy renders the claims nonarbitrable.” Jones v. Halliburton Co., 583 F.3d 228, 233-34 (5th Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         “The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly emphasized the strong federal policy in favor of arbitration.” Safer v. Nelson Fin. Grp., Inc., 422 F.3d 289, 294 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Neal v. Hardee's Food Sys., Inc., 918 F.2d 34, 37 (5th Cir. 1990)). Doubts concerning the scope of an arbitration agreement should be resolved in favor of arbitration. Id. And “arbitration should not be denied unless it can be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation which would cover the dispute at issue.” Id. (internal quotations and citations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         There is no dispute that Barron had a credit card with Defendants, and the credit-card agreement contained an arbitration provision.[2] Thus, the next question is whether Barron's FCRA claims fall within the scope of the following arbitration provision:

ARBITRATION
PLEASE READ THIS PROVISION OF THE AGREEMENT CAREFULLY. IT PROVIDES THAT ANY DISPUTE MAY BE RESOLVED BY BINDING ARBITRATION. ARBITRATION REPLACES THE RIGHT TO GO TO COURT, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO A JURY AND THE RIGHT TO INITIATE OR PARTICIPATE IN A CLASS ACTION OR SIMILAR PROCEEDING. IN ARBITRATION, A DISPUTE IS RESOLVED BY AN ARBITRATOR INSTEAD OF A JUDGE OR JURY. ARBITRATION PROCEDURES ARE SIMPLER AND MORE LIMITED THAN COURT PROCEDURES.
Agreement to Arbitrate: Either you or we may, without the other's consent, elect mandatory, binding arbitration for any claim, dispute, or controversy between you ...

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