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Bowers v. Asbury St. Louis Lex, LLC

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

July 7, 2015

ANTONIO BOWERS, Respondent,
v.
ASBURY ST. LOUIS LEX, LLC d/b/a PLAZA LEXUS, ASBURY AUTOMOTIVE GROUP, INC. and CURTIS B. YETTKE, Appellants

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County. Honorable Barbara W. Wallace.

For Appellants: Whitney P. Cooney, St. Louis, MO.

For Respondent: James G. Nowogrocki, St. Louis, MO.

Roy L. Richter, J., and Robert M. Clayton III, J., concur.

OPINION

Patricia L. Cohen, Presiding Judge.

Page 424

Introduction

Asbury St. Louis LEX, LLC, d/b/a Plaza Lexus and Curtis Yettke[1] (Defendants) appeal the order of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County denying their motion to stay proceedings and compel arbitration in an employment discrimination action filed by Antonio Bowers (Plaintiff). Defendants claim the trial court erred because Plaintiff executed a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff began working for Plaza Lexus as a service porter on December 16, 2010. On his first day of work, Plaintiff attended an orientation and received various documents requiring his signature, including an Agreement to Arbitrate (Agreement). The Agreement provided:

I accept the Company's offer to arbitrate and agree that any dispute of a legal nature arising under federal, state, or local law between me and the Company, including any such claim regarding Company property, discrimination, harassment, or any other legal dispute relating to my employment or arising under any labor, employment or civil rights law, will be subject to final and binding arbitration in accordance with the terms of the Company's Arbitration Policy and Arbitration Rules. I understand that the arbitrator, who will serve as judge and jury, has the same authority to award money damages and other relief as does a court or jury. I also understand that, while the Employee Handbook is otherwise subject to change at the Company's discretion, this Agreement to Arbitrate and the Company's Arbitration Policy will be binding and irrevocable for the Company and me as written, with respect to any claim arising while this Agreement is in effect.

Plaintiff signed and dated the Agreement. The Agreement did not contain a signature line for management and no representative of Defendants signed the document. The Arbitration Rules referred to in the Agreement contained the following modification provision:

The Company may change these Rules from time to time to reflect developments in the law and to ensure the continued efficiency of the arbitration process. If the Rules are changed, the Company shall provide at ...

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