United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING PETITION TO COMPEL
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company petitions this
court for an order compelling Defendant Greater Lakes
Ambulatory Surgical Center to arbitrate claims for liquidated
damages. (Dkt. ##1, 16.) Plaintiff avers that Defendant has
violated the terms of a prior settlement agreement between
the parties, and further alleges that the settlement
agreement contained a mandatory arbitration provision. Before
the court is Plaintiff's petition, Defendant's
“Answer” to the petition (Dkt. #11), and
Defendant's “Supplemental Brief in Support of
Answer [to] Petitioner's Petition” (Dkt. #13.) As
to this last document, Plaintiff has filed a reply. (Dkt.
also moved to file its settlement agreement and related
documents under seal. (Dkt. #3.) Defendant filed no response.
The court denied the motion, concluding that Plaintiff had
not met its heavy burden to demonstrate that the documents
should be filed under seal. (Dkt. #15.) It also, however,
invited Plaintiff to file an amended, unredacted petition and
a copy of its arbitration agreement with Defendant. Plaintiff
has done so. (Dkt. #16.) The removal of redacted material in
Plaintiff's petition having made no material change to
Plaintiff's factual assertions or argument, the court
sees no reason for amended responses from Defendant. The
court will construe Defendant's “Answer” and
“Supplemental Brief” as responses to the amended
petition. For the following reasons, the court will grant the
petition to compel arbitration.
turning to the merits of Plaintiff's petition, the court
will briefly address Plaintiff's argument that the court
should disregard Defendant's submissions as
“procedurally invalid and untimely.” (Dkt. #14
Pg. ID 93.)
weeks after Plaintiff ostensibly served Defendant with a copy
of the initial petition (see Dkt. #6), no attorney
had yet appeared on Defendant's behalf. The court, noting
that Plaintiff had been in contact with someone purporting to
be Defendant's counsel, ordered Plaintiff to identify
counsel and meet and confer regarding proposed briefing
dates. (Dkt. #7.) The parties did so, Defendant's counsel
entered an appearance, and the court set a briefing schedule.
Before the set deadline to respond, Defendant entered an
“Answer” to Plaintiff's petition, wherein it
answered-as one does with an answer to a complaint-to each
numbered paragraph in Plaintiff's petition.
following day (still before the set deadline to respond to
the petition), Defendant's counsel filed a stipulation
and proposed order granting Defendant an extension of time to
file a (presumably more detailed) response to the petition.
The court struck the stipulation as improvidently filed.
Under the Eastern District of Michigan's Electronic
Filing Policies and Procedures,  parties must submit proposed
orders directly to the court via a link on ECF-they are not
permitted to file proposed orders on the docket, as Defendant
had done. See Rule 11(a).
never resubmitted the stipulation and proposed order.
Plaintiff argues that Defendant's response (Dkt. #13),
submitted after the set deadline, is therefore untimely.
Moreover, according to Plaintiff, Defendant's
timely-filed “Answer” is procedurally invalid
because answers are permitted only in response to a
complaint. The court need not address these procedural
irregularities, however, because Plaintiff is nevertheless
entitled to the relief it seeks in its petition.
petitions this court for an order compelling Defendant to
engage in arbitration. Plaintiff credibly asserts that the
parties entered a settlement agreement and that the terms of
the settlement agreement include an arbitration provision.
for its part, raises various arguments of dubious merit as to
the enforceability of the contract as a whole. But it does
not argue that it is not a party to the agreement, nor does
it challenge the enforceability of the arbitration provision
itself. Instead, Defendant argues that the agreement as a
whole is not enforceable because Defendant's current
controlling partner was “only a minority partner at the
time of the agreement.” (Dkt. #13 Pg. ID 88.) Defendant
also posits that the agreement is unenforceable because it is
unduly burdensome, results in unjust enrichment to Plaintiff,
and limits access to medical treatment. (Id. at Pg.
“[u]nless [a party's] challenge is to the
arbitration clause itself, the issue of the contract's
validity is considered by the arbitrator in the first
instance.” Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v.
Cardegna, 546 U.S. 440, 445-46 (2006); see also
Knight v. Idea Buyer, LLC, No. 17-3539, 2018 WL 580653,
at *2 (6th Cir. Jan. 29, 2018) (“Because the Plaintiffs
have challenged the [agreement] as a whole, this challenge
should therefore be considered by an arbitrator, not a
court.” (quotation omitted)). Defendant does not
challenge the validity of the arbitration agreement.
Defendant challenges the validity of the entire settlement
agreement. That issue is properly presented to the arbitrator
in the first instance, and is no bar to granting
Plaintiff's petition here.
Defendant offers a cursory statement that Plaintiff did not
provide proper notice of the petition. Even read generously,
the court has difficulty parsing the basis for
Defendant's assertion, which begins as follows: “A
signature from any employee or represented of Petition is not
exhibit as receiving proper notice or service.”
Defendant goes on to cite Michigan Court Rules governing
service in Michigan courts. In the Sixth Circuit,
“issues adverted to in a perfunctory manner,
unaccompanied by some effort at developed argumentation, are
deemed waived.” Meridia Prod. Liab. Litig. v.
Abbott Laboratories, 447 F.3d 861, 868 (6th Cir. 2006).
The court will not, therefore, undertake some more
comprehensive analysis of Plaintiff's service of the
petition. At any rate, the purpose of service is to provide a
party with notice of commencement of the case; Defendant,
having appeared before the court and made numerous filings,
has received sufficient notice in this action.
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Petition to Compel Arbitration
(Dkt. #16) is GRANTED. There being nothing further for the
court to consider in this case, this matter will be closed.