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Eaton v. Ad Astra Recovery Services, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 20, 2015

SARAH EATON, Plaintiff,
v.
AD ASTRA RECOVERY SERVICES, INC., Defendant

Page 974

For Sarah Eaton, Plaintiff: Steven A. Donner, LEAD ATTORNEY, AEKTRA LEGAL, LLC, St. Louis, MO; Matthew P. Cook, St. Louis, MO.

For Ad Astra Recovery Services, Inc., Defendant: Joshua C. Dickinson, LEAD ATTORNEY, SPENCER FANE, LLP, Omaha, NE; James R. Bedell, MOSS AND BARNETT, P.A., Minneapolis, MN.

Page 975

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Jean C. Hamilton, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Ad Astra Recovery Service Inc.'s (" Ad Astra" ) Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Action Pending Completion of Arbitration, which Ad Astra filed on December 2, 2014. (ECF No. 10). The Motion has been fully briefed and is ready for disposition.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Sarah Eaton (" Eaton" ) initiated this action by filing a Petition in the Circuit Court of Warren County, Missouri. (Removal Notice, ECF No. 1). According to the Petition, Eaton is an individual who incurred an unspecified consumer debt. (Petition, ECF No. 4, ¶ 3). Ad Astra is a company that " engage[s] in the collection of debts from consumers using the mail and telephone in Missouri." Id. ¶ 5. Pursuant to its debt-collection business, Ad Astra " report[ed] a negative collection item on [Eaton's] credit reports." Id. ¶ 7. After discovering Ad Astra's claim on her credit report, Eaton contacted Ad Astra to inquire about it. Id. ¶ ¶ 8, 11. During the telephone conversation, Ad Astra allegedly attempted to collect the debt from Eaton, and in the process made a number of misrepresentations. Id. ¶ ¶ 12-18. Eaton therefore filed a claim against Ad Astra for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (" FDCPA" ). Id. ¶ ¶ 22-25.

The debt at the center of the dispute arose when Eaton obtained a payday loan of $125 from SCIL, Inc., d/b/a SpeedyCash.com (" SpeedyCash" ). (Ad Astra Support Memo, ECF. No. 11, at 1, 4-6; Eaton Response, ECF No. 13, at 2-3; Loan Agreement, ECF No. 11-1, at 4). The Loan Agreement between Eaton and SpeedyCash contains an Arbitration Provision, which states:

Unless prohibited by applicable law and unless you reject the Arbitration Provision in accordance with Section 1 below, you and we agree that either party may elect to require arbitration of any Claim under the following terms and conditions:
. . .
2. DEFINITITION OF " CLAIM" . The term 'Claim' means any claim, dispute or controversy between you and us (including 'related parties' identified below) that arises from or relates in any way to Services you request or we provide, now, in the past or in the future; the Application (or any prior or future application); any agreement relating to Services ('Services Agreement'); any of our marketing, advertising, solicitations and conduct relating to your request for Services; our collection of any amounts you owe; our disclosure of or failure to protect any information about you; or the validity, enforceability or scope of this Arbitration Provision. 'Claim' is to be given the broadest possible meaning and includes claims of every kind and nature, including but not limited to, initial claims, counterclaims, cross-claims and third-party claims, and claims based on any constitution, statute, regulation, ordinance, common law rule (including rules relating to contracts, negligence, fraud or other intentional wrongs) and equity. It includes disputes that seek relief of any type, including damages and/or injunctive, declaratory or other equitable relief. Notwithstanding the foregoing, 'Claim' does not include any individual action brought by you in small claims court or your state's equivalent

Page 976

court, unless such action is transferred, removed, or appealed to a different court, or any assertion that Section 5(C), (D), and/or (E) below is invalid or unenforceable; any such actions and assertions of this kind will be resolved by a court and not an arbitrator. 'Claim' also does not include any 'self-help remedy' (that is, any steps taken to enforce rights without a determination by a court or arbitrator, for example, repossession and/or re-titling of a motor vehicle) or any individual action by you or us to prevent the other party from using any self-help remedy, so long as such self-help remedy or individual judicial action does not involve a request for monetary relief of any kind. Even if all parties have elected to litigate a Claim in court, you or we may elect arbitration with respect to any Claim made by a new party or any new Claim asserted in that lawsuit, and nothing in that litigation shall constitute a waiver of any rights under this Arbitration Provision. This Arbitration Provision will apply to all Claims, even if the facts and circumstances giving rise to the Claims existed before the effective date of this Arbitration ...

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