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Garnick v. Interstate Batteries, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 14, 2018

Michael Garnick, Plaintiff,
v.
Interstate Batteries, Inc., Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION

          Sean F. Cox, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff filed this suit against his former employer, alleging that Defendant terminated his employment due to his military obligations with the National Guard, in violation of state and federal statutes. The matter is currently before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration. The parties have fully briefed the issues and the Court ordered supplemental briefing by the parties, which has been completed. The Court concludes that oral argument is not necessary and ORDERS that the motion will be decided without oral argument. As explained below, the Court shall GRANT the motion seeking to compel arbitration because: 1) there is a valid agreement to arbitrate and this employment dispute is within its broad scope; and 2) Plaintiff knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to a jury trial under federal law.

         BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff Michael Garnick filed this action against his former employer, Defendant Interstate Batteries, Inc., on June 22, 2017. Plaintiff alleges that he was an employee of Defendant while also serving as a “member of the Uniformed Services, specifically the Army National Guard.” (Compl. at 3). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant wrongfully terminated his employment due to his military obligations, in violation of federal and state statutes. Plaintiff asserts the following claims: “Count I - Denial of Reemployment, Retention in Employment, or Any Benefit of Employment in Violation of 38 U.S.C. § 4311(a)”; “Count II - Uniformed Services Discrimination in Violation of 38 U.S.C. § 4311(b);” “Count III - Denial of Reemployment Rights of Persons Who Serve in the Uniformed Services in Violation of 38 U.S.C. § 4312;” and “Count IV - Violations of the Military Leave; Reemployment Protection Act 133 of 1955 MCL 32.271 et seq.” The parties stipulated that Defendant could have until August 25, 2017 to respond to the complaint. (D.E. No. 7).

         This Court's practice guidelines pertaining to motion practice provide, consistent with Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c) and (e), that:

a. The moving party's papers shall include a separate document entitled Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute. The statement shall list in separately numbered paragraphs concise statements of each undisputed material fact, supported by appropriate citations to the record. . .
b. In response, the opposing party shall file a separate document entitled Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts. The counter-statement shall list in separately numbered paragraphs following the order or the movant's statement, whether each of the facts asserted by the moving party is admitted or denied and shall also be supported by appropriate citations to the record. The Counter-Statement shall also include, in a separate section, a list of each issue of material fact as to which it is contended there is a genuine issue for trial.
c. All material facts as set forth in the Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute shall be deemed admitted unless controverted in the Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts.

https://www.mied.uscourts.gov.

         On August 25, 2017, Defendant filed a “Motion to Dismiss and Compel Arbitration, based upon an alleged agreement to arbitrate. (D.E. No. 8).

         After that motion had been briefed by the parties, this Court issued an order for supplemental briefing, wherein the Court explained and ordered as follows:

As to the validity challenge, the applicable standard mirrors the summary judgment standard. See Great Earth Companies v. Simons, 288 F.3d 878, 889 (6th Cir. 2002). But neither Defendant nor Plaintiff have complied with this Court's practice guidelines as to summary judgment motions. The Court hereby ORDERS that:
1) No later than January 31, 2018, Defendant shall file a supplemental brief of no more than 12 pages that focuses on the applicable summary judgment standard as to this issue, and addresses any choice-of-law issues if the parties do not agree on the applicable state law that applies to the validity dispute. Defendant shall also file a separate Statement of Material Facts Not In Dispute, as provided in this Court's practice guidelines;
2) No later than February 21, 2018, Plaintiff shall file a supplemental response brief of no more than 12 pages that focuses on the applicable summary judgment standard as to this issue, and addresses and addresses any choice-of-law issues if the parties do not agree on the applicable state law that applies to the validity dispute. Plaintiff shall also file a separate Counter-Statement of Disputed Facts, as provided in this Court's practice guidelines; and
3) No later than February 28, 2018, Defendant may file a supplemental reply brief of no more than 4 pages.
IT IS SO ORDERED.

(D.E. No. 15) (bolding in original; italics added for emphasis).

         In compliance with the Court's Order, on January 31, 2018, Defendant filed: 1) a supplemental brief (D.E. No. 18); and 2) a separate statement of material facts not in dispute, in compliance with this Court's practice guidelines, along with supporting exhibits. (D.E. No. 17).

         On February 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a supplemental brief. (D.E. No. 19). Plaintiff did not, however, file a counter-statement of disputed facts, as ordered by the Court.

         B. Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff initially sought a position with Defendant in Taylor, Michigan but he was not selected for that job. (D.E. No. 21-2 at Pg ID 545). Based on his qualifications, however, he was contacted about a job opening in Dallas, Texas and Plaintiff expressed interest in that position. (Id.). On February 26, 2015, Defendant flew Plaintiff to Texas to interview for the position, tour the area, and make sure he was interested in moving to Texas. (Id.)

         Plaintiff formally applied for employment with Defendant on March 12, 2015, by submitting an employment application on the company's online electronic application system. (D.E. No. 17-2 at ¶ 7; D.E. 17-3; D.E. No. 8-4). Plaintiff's application of employment contained the following:

I further understand that Interstate Batteries has adopted a Dispute resolution Policy, Information Security and Confidentiality and other policies as contained in the Team Playbook, which I submit to, if hired, as an Interstate Batteries Team Member.

(D.E. No. 17-3 at Pg ID 272) (bolding added for emphasis). Plaintiff acknowledged and agreed to that provision on March 12, 2015, at 2:26 p.m., with an electronic signature, when he checked an online box on his application of employment for submission to Interstate. (D.E. No. 17-3 at 273).

         At the time that he applied to Defendant for employment, Plaintiff indicated that he had graduated high school. Plaintiff further indicated that, although he had not yet received a degree, he had attended Eastern Michigan University for five years, studying communications. Plaintiff also identified that he had the following special skills and qualifications: “P&L, Microsoft office, Team Building, Lean, 6Sigma, Logistics Management.” (D.E. No. 17-3 at Pg ID 269).

         Plaintiff's application indicated that Plaintiff had worked for Ferguson Enterprises from June of 2014 until February of 2015 as the “Shipping Manager, ” where he managed outbound operations for a hub facility and earned a salary of $53, 000.00 per year. Plaintiff further indicated that, from April of 2007 to February of 2015, he was a “Section Chief” with the Michigan Army National Guard, where ...


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