United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
CARLTON W. REEVES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is plaintiff's motion to compel arbitration.
Having reviewed the briefing and applicable law, the Court is
ready to rule.
Factual and Procedural Background
2014, Seshadri Raju and Erin Murphy agreed to professionally
associate and entered into a written Physician Employment
Agreement. The Agreement contained an arbitration
section. Dr. Raju and Dr. Murphy worked together
from September 2014 until February 2017.
March 2017, Dr. Raju filed this action in the Circuit Court
of Hinds County, Mississippi. He sought compensatory damages,
punitive damages, and attorneys' fees for alleged breach
of contract, disclosure of confidential information, theft of
copyrighted materials, gross negligence, malice, fraud,
extortion, theft and embezzlement, among other
claims. In May 2017, Dr. Murphy removed the action
to this Court and counterclaimed for breach of contract,
conversion, tortious interference with contract, constructive
discharge, negligence, and negligent as well as intentional
infliction of emotional distress. She demands a trial by
Raju now seeks to enforce the arbitration clause contained in
the Agreement. Dr. Murphy argues that Dr. Raju has waived the
arbitration clause by choosing to litigate the merits of his
claims in court.
right to arbitrate a dispute, like all contract rights, is
subject to waiver.” Nicholas v. KBR, Inc., 565
F.3d 904, 907 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Miller Brewing Co.
v. Fort Worth Distrib. Co., 781 F.2d 494, 497 (5th Cir.
1986)). “Waiver will be found when the party seeking
arbitration substantially invokes the judicial process to the
detriment or prejudice of the other party.” Miller
Brewing Co., 781 F.2d at 497.
constitutes a waiver of arbitration is a fact-dependent
inquiry.” Nicholas, 565 F.3d at 910 (citation
omitted). “However, in light of the federal policy
favoring arbitration, there is a strong presumption against
finding a waiver of arbitration.” Al Rushaid v.
Nat'l Oilwell Varco, Inc., 757 F.3d 416, 421-22 (5th
Cir. 2014) (brackets, quotation marks and citation omitted).
is no dispute that the Agreement was executed by both
parties, it contained an arbitration clause, and that
arbitration clause would apply to these claims and
counterclaims. Therefore, the analysis proceeds to the
elements of waiver: substantial invocation of the judicial
process and prejudice.
Substantial Invocation of the Judicial Process
record suggests that Dr. Raju was initially uninterested in
resolving this dispute through arbitration. “Indeed,
short of directly saying so in open court, it is difficult to
see how a party could more clearly evince a desire to resolve
a dispute through litigation rather than arbitration, than by
filing a lawsuit going to the merits of an otherwise
arbitrable dispute.” Nicholas, 565 F.3d at 908
(brackets, ellipsis, and citation omitted). By commencing
this suit, Dr. Raju unequivocally requested judicial
resolution of his claims. Id. (“[T]he act of a
plaintiff filing suit without asserting an arbitration clause
constitutes substantial invocation of the judicial process .
. . .”).