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Vegas v. CMH Homes, Inc.

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

January 15, 2019

PAMELA A. VEGAS PLAINTIFF
v.
CMH HOMES, INC., a Tennessee Corporation d/b/a Clayton Homes Gulfport, et al. DEFENDANTS

         ORDER GRANTING IN PART AS UNOPPOSED AND DENYING IN PART WITHOUT PREJUDICE DEFENDANTS' [7] MOTION TO COMPEL MEDIATION/ARBITRATION AND FOR STAY, AND STAYING AND ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSING CASE FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES PENDING COMPLETION OF MEDIATION

          HALIL SULEYMAN OZERDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is the Motion [7] to Compel Mediation/Arbitration and for Stay filed by Defendant CMH Homes, Inc., a Tennessee corporation d/b/a Clayton Homes Gulfport (“CMH Homes”), in which Defendant Precision Movers, Inc., a Mississippi corporation (“Precision Movers”), has joined [9], [12]. Plaintiff Pamela A. Vegas (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Vegas”) has filed a Response [10] to the Motion [7], and CMH Homes has filed a Rebuttal [13] in which Precision Movers has joined [14]. Having considered the Motion [7], the related pleadings, the record, and relevant legal authority, the Court is of the opinion that Defendants' Motion [7] should be granted in part and denied in part without prejudice as premature.

         To the extent Defendants seek to compel mediation and stay this case pending completion of said mediation, their request will be granted as unopposed. Defendants' request to compel binding arbitration is premature at this time and will be denied without prejudice. The Court will stay this case and administratively close it for statistical purposes. Within 30 days of the conclusion of the mediation, the parties are directed to provide the Court with a status update, and at that time any party may move to reopen the case and place it back on the active docket, if necessary.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual background

         On June 11, 2013, Plaintiff and her former husband, Blain Vegas (“Mr. Vegas”), entered into a contract with CMH to purchase a manufactured home. See Compl. [1-2] at 9; see also Sales Agreement [1-2] at 19. According to the Complaint, after Plaintiff selected the site for the manufactured home, CMH and Precision Movers “both checked said site to determine if same was suitable for the location and set up of the subject manufacture [sic] home purchased by Vegas” and “required Vegas to undertake some initial site preparations . . . .” Compl. [1-2] at 10. After Ms. Vegas did so, she claims that CMH and Precision Movers inspected the site and informed her that it was suitable for placement of the manufactured home. Id. According to Plaintiff, Precision Movers placed a dirt pad on the site, delivered the manufactured home, and put in the foundation pads on which the home sits. Id.

         In connection with the purchase of their manufactured home, Mr. and Ms. Vegas executed certain agreements with CMH, including a Retailer Closing Agreement, a Sales Agreement, and a Binding Dispute Resolution Agreement (“BDRA”). See id.; see also Retailer Closing Agreement [7-2] at 1-4; Sales Agreement [7-3] at 1-2; BDRA [7-4] at 1-4. The BDRA reads in relevant part as follows:

[t]he Parties (defined below) agree to resolve all disputes pursuant to the terms of this Binding Dispute Resolution Agreement (the “Agreement”). The parties are defined as the buyer (whether one or more) who signs below (referred to hereinafter as “Buyer”) and CMH Homes, Inc., its subsidiary(s) (e.g., CMH of KY, Inc.), and their/its agents, assignees, successors in interest, and employees (collectively referred to as “Seller”). Buyer and Seller agree that this Agreement also applies to and governs the rights of intended beneficiaries of this Agreement, who include the following additional Parties: . . . contractors, including, without limitation, contractors involved in delivery and set-up of Buyer's Home . . . .
A. Scope of Agreement: This Agreement applies to all preexisting, present, or future disputes, claims, or controversies, grievances, and causes of action against Seller, including, but not limited to, common law claims, contract and warranty claims, tort claims, statutory claims, administrative law claims, and any other matter in question, not otherwise excepted here, arising out of or relating to (i) the modular or manufactured home(s) purchased, sold, owned, occupied and/or delivered in any transaction with Buyer or Beneficiaries (the “Home”) . . . .
B. Exclusion for Consumer Credit Transactions Secured by a Dwelling: Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to require mandatory mediation or binding arbitration of any disputes arising out of any contract or any other agreement for a consumer credit transaction secured by a dwelling. Disputes arising out of any contract or any other agreement for a consumer credit transaction secured by a dwelling are specifically excluded from the definition of “Claim” or “Claims.”
C. Agreement to Mediate: All Claims that cannot be settled through direct discussions and negotiation shall be submitted first to mediation with a mutually agreeable mediator (“Mediation”). If the parties cannot agree on a mediator within a reasonable time, then the Mediation shall be administered by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) under its Home Construction Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures in effect at the time Mediation is requested (the “Rules”) . . . . In the event the Parties are not successful in resolving their dispute in mediation, then the Parties agree to submit their Claims to binding arbitration. Mediation of Claims is a mandatory condition precedent to arbitration or a court proceeding. An agreement to resolve the Claims in mediation shall be enforceable in any court having jurisdiction thereof.
D. Agreement to Arbitrate: The parties agree to mandatory, binding arbitration (“Arbitration”) of all Claims that are ...

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