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CMH Homes, Inc. v. Pyke

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

September 28, 2017

CMH HOMES, INC. and SOUTHERN ENERGY HOMES, INC. PLAINTIFFS
v.
RICHARD DOUGLAS PYKE and CHRISTINE ROMANO PYKE DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          KEITH STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction and Improper Venue or, in the Alternative, to Transfer Venue ("Motion to Dismiss") [7] filed by Defendants Richard Douglas Pyke and Christine Romano Pyke. After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that this motion is not well taken and should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This action is centered around the purchase of a manufactured home by Defendants Richard Douglas Pyke and Christine Romano Pyke (collectively "Defendants") from Plaintiffs CMH Homes, Inc., and Southern Energy Homes, Inc. (collectively "Plaintiffs"). The home was purchased by Plaintiffs in April 2016. One of the agreements signed by parties at the time of purchase was a Binding Dispute Resolution Agreement. Shortly after purchase, Defendants contacted Plaintiffs concerning the condition of the home after delivery. Subsequently, on May 19, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Petition [1] seeking for an order compelling arbitration, pursuant to § 4 of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 4. Defendants now bring challenges to the ripeness of this suit and to venue.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Ripeness

         Defendants argue that the Petition [1] is due to be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) because it is not yet ripe. As ripeness is a jurisdictional issue, the Court must address this argument first. See Choice Inc. of Tex. v. Greenstein, 691 F.3d 710, 714 (5th Cir. 2012).

         Defendants contend that the issue of arbitration is not ripe for judicial adjudication because no other proceeding is pending against Plaintiffs. In response, Plaintiffs argue that ripeness is decided by the issues in the underlying dispute that they seek to have arbitrated. Both sides cite multiple out-of-circuit authorities in support of their arguments; however, the Court need not consider any of them as the Supreme Court and the Fifth Circuit have already definitively answered this question.

Under the Supreme Court's decision in Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 129 S.Ct. 1262, 173 L.Ed.2d 206 (2009), we must . . . "look through" the petition to compel arbitration in order to determine whether the underlying dispute presents a sufficiently ripe controversy to establish federal jurisdiction. At issue in Vaden, as in this case, was § 4 of the FAA, which "provides for United States district court enforcement of arbitration agreements."

Lower Colorado River Auth. v. Papalote Creek II, L.L.C, 858 F.3d 916, 922 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Vaden, 556 U.S. at 58, 129 S.Ct. 1262). Because this case is brought under § 4 of the FAA, just like Vaden and Lower Colorado, to decide if the case is ripe for adjudication, the Court looks at the underlying dispute, not the issue of arbitration.

         Defendants make no argument that the underlying dispute is not ripe for adjudication. Nor does the Court believe a genuine dispute exists as the ripeness of the underlying dispute. "The key considerations [for ripeness] are the fitness of the issues for judicial review and the hardship to the parties of withholding court consideration. A case is generally ripe if any remaining questions are purely legal ones; conversely, a case is not ripe if further factual development is required." New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. Council of City of New Orleans, 833 F.2d 583, 586-87 (5th Cir. 1987) (internal citations and quotations omitted). The dispute Plaintiffs seek to have arbitrated is centered around the purchase of a manufactured home and the accompanying warranties and agreements. That transaction has been completed, and the home was subsequently delivered to Defendants. The dispute concerns the condition of the home and Plaintiffs' obligations to Defendants stemming from the agreements made at the time of purchase. No further factual development is needed, and the issues of whether Plaintiffs breached the agreements and warranties are fit for judicial review. Nothing about the underlying dispute leads the Court to believe that there is no actual controversy so as to make it not ripe for adjudication.

         The Motion to Dismiss [7] will therefore be denied as to the issue of ripeness.

         B. Venue

         Defendants argue that venue in the Eastern Division of the Southern District of Mississippi is improper and that the case should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...


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