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Young v. Citifinancial Servicing LLC

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

February 6, 2017

MARLYN YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
CITIFINANCIAL SERVICE LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Marlyn Young proceeds in this removed action pro se, alleging that defendants CitiFinancial Service LLC and Lowe's Home Centers LLC violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681, et seq.; the Credit CARD Act, Pub. L. No. 111-24, 123 Stat. 1734 (2009); and the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 407.010, et seq., by maintaining and reporting improper information in his credit accounts. I previously dismissed Young's claims against Lowe's with prejudice on the representation that the matter was settled between those parties. In the interests of justice, I will grant Young's request to reinstate his claims against this defendant. Additionally, based on the contract between Young and CitiFinancial, I will grant CitiFinancial's motion to compel arbitration and stay Young's claims against CitiFinancial, pending arbitration.

         Defendant Lowe's

         Upon removal of this action from state court in July 2016, Lowe's informed the Court that the claims brought by Young against Lowe's had been settled. On July 26, I granted Lowe's request to pass the matter for settlement and gave the parties sixty days to file dismissal papers. I cautioned that I would dismiss the claims with prejudice if the parties did not timely dismiss the claims under the terms of my Order. Sixty days passed and nothing was filed. On September 27, I dismissed Young's claims against Lowe's with prejudice under the terms of my earlier Order.

         Later that same day - September 27 - Young sought to reinstate Lowe's as a defendant in this action, claiming that he and Lowe's did not reach a settlement on his claims, despite their efforts. In a later filing, Young argued that Lowe's acted prematurely in filing a notice of settlement with the Court, given that negotiations between the parties never resulted in a settlement. In response, Lowe's argues that a settlement was in fact reached but that, regardless, Young should not have waited until after the dismissal deadline to approach the Court with his assertions. Lowe's also argues that Young's attempt to reinstate Lowe's as a defendant is procedurally improper.

         Given Young's pro se status, I will consider his request to reinstate Lowe's as a motion brought under Rule 60(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for relief from a final order of dismissal. This type of relief is appropriate where a case has been dismissed based upon the parties' mistaken belief they have agreed to a settlement. See MIF Realty L.P. v. Rochester Assocs., 92 F.3d 752, 756-57 (8th Cir. 1996); see also 4:20 Commc'ns, Inc. v. Paradigm Co., 336 F.3d 775, 779 (8th Cir. 2003). Such are the circumstances here.

         From the information before the Court, it appears that either Lowe's had a mistaken belief that a settlement agreement was reached, or a settlement was reached and Young later refused to go along with it. Young has consistently denied in his court filings that the case was settled, and the file shows that he never himself represented to the Court that the case was settled. In the circumstances, I find relief from a judgment of dismissal to be appropriate under Rule 60(b)(6). MIF Realty L.P., 92 F.3d at 756-57. This is especially true since the merits of the claims have never been considered and nothing before the Court shows that any of Lowe's substantial rights will be prejudiced by allowing the claims to proceed. Id. at 755. Nothing in this Order prevents Lowe's from filing a motion to enforce a settlement, if it believes that is appropriate.

         Accordingly, I will grant Young's request to reinstate his claims against defendant Lowe's in this action, and will set a deadline for Lowe's to respond to the complaint.

         Defendant CitiFinancial

         CitiFinancial seeks to compel arbitration of the claims that Young brings against it, averring that the relevant arbitration clause incorporated into its contract with Young requires this result. I agree.

         There is a strong federal policy favoring arbitration. Faber v. Menard, Inc., 367 F.3d 1048, 1052 (8th Cir. 2004). In light of this policy, “arbitration agreements are to be enforced unless a party can show that it will not be able to vindicate its rights in the arbitral forum.” Id. (citing Green Tree Fin. Corp. v. Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 90-92 (2000)).

         Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), a claim is arbitrable if 1) the agreement for arbitration was validly made; and 2) if the arbitration agreement applies to the dispute at hand, i.e., whether the dispute falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement. MedCam, Inc. v. MCNC, 414 F.3d 972, 974 (8th Cir. 2005); Iappini v. Silverleaf Resorts, Inc., 116 F.Supp.3d 932, 936 (E.D. Mo. 2015). Also, if the claim is a statutory one, it must not be one which the legislative body enacting it intended to be precluded from arbitration. See Gilmer v. Interstate Johnson Lane Corp., 500 U.S. 20, 26 (1991). Here, all criteria for arbitration are satisfied.

         In determining the validity of an arbitration agreement, the burden is on the party opposing arbitration to proffer evidence demonstrating that it is invalid. Gilmer, 500 U.S. at 26. Where a party fails to challenge an arbitration provision specifically, I must treat it as valid and enforce it. See Rent-A-Ctr., W., Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S. 63, 72 (2010); see also Granite Rock Co. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 301 (2010). Young has not responded to CitiFinancial's motion to compel arbitration and so has not presented any evidence that the agreement was invalidly made. Nor does a review of the agreement show anything on its face that would render it invalid.

         In addition, the nature of the dispute falls within the arbitration agreement. In his Note and Security Agreement (“Note”) with Citifinancial, Young agreed that the terms of a separately executed arbitration agreement were incorporated into the terms of the Note. (ECF #10-1.) Under that arbitration ...


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