United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
WILLIAM L. FAMBROUGH, Plaintiff,
LOGAN D. GREEN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LYFT, INC.; AND LYFT, INC., Defendants.
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE.
the court is Defendants Logan D. Green and Lyft, Inc.
(“Defendants”)’ Motion to Compel
Arbitration. (Doc. 13.) Plaintiff William Fambrough
(“Plaintiff”) filed a motion for oral argument to
stay arbitration. (Doc. 15.) The motions are fully briefed.
(Docs. 13, 15, 17.) After careful consideration,
Plaintiff’s request for oral argument to stay
arbitration is DENIED and Defendants’
Motion to Compel Arbitration is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
Inc. (“Lyft”) is a two-sided marketplace platform
(the “Lyft Platform”) that uses a mobile phone
application to connect passengers who need rides with drivers
who are willing to provide them. Plaintiff was a driver who
had access to and used the Lyft Platform within Missouri and
filed his Complaint with this Court on March 5, 2019,
alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 4.)
Plaintiff’s allegations arise out of Lyft’s
suspension of Plaintiff’s privilege to drive for Lyft.
(Id.) Defendants argue Plaintiff’s claims are
governed by an arbitration agreement (the
“Agreement”), signed by Plaintiff on multiple
occasions. The Agreement states,
PLEASE BE ADVISED: THIS AGREEMENT CONTANS PROVISIONS
THAT GOVERN HOW CLAIMS YOU AND LYFT HAVE AGAINST EACH OTHER
CAN BE BROUGHT (SEE SECTION 17 BELOW). THESE PROVISIONS WILL,
WITH LIMITED EXCEPTION, REQUIRE YOU TO SUBMIT CLAIMS YOU HAVE
AGAINST LYFT TO BINDING AND FINAL ARBITRATION ON AN
INDIVIDUAL BASIS, NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY
CLASS, GROUP OR REPRESENTATIVE ACTION OR PROCEEDING. AS A
DRIVER OR DRIVER APPLICANT, YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO OPT
OUT OF ARBITRATION WITH RESPECT TO CERTAIN CLAIMS AS PROVIDED
IN SECTION 17.
(Doc. 13-3, Ex. A.) Plaintiff was required to accept these
terms before having access to the Lyft Platform.
(See Doc. 13-3.) Plaintiff agreed to and accepted
these terms on multiple occasions. (Doc. 13-2; Doc. 15.)
Plaintiff makes two arguments for why arbitration should not
be compelled: the Agreement was entered into under duress and
Plaintiff’s claims are not covered by the Agreement.
The Court finds both arguments to be without merit.
2 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), its primary
substantive provision, states: “A written provision in
… a contract evidencing a transaction involving
commerce to settle by arbitration a controversy thereafter
arising out of such contract ... shall be valid, irrevocable,
and enforceable, save upon such grounds as exist at law or in
equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C.
§ 2. “Under § 3, a party may apply to a
federal court for a stay of the trial of an action
‘upon any issue referable to arbitration under an
agreement in writing for such arbitration.’”
Rent-A-Center, W., Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S. 63, 68
(2010) (quoting 9 U.S.C. § 3). “Under § 4, a
party ‘aggrieved’ by the failure of another party
‘to arbitrate under a written agreement for
arbitration’ may petition a federal court ‘for an
order directing that such arbitration proceed in the manner
provided for in such agreement.’” Id.
(quoting 9 U.S.C. § 4). “These provisions reflect
both a liberal federal policy favoring arbitration, and the
fundamental principle that arbitration is a matter of
contract.” Driver v. BPV Mkt. Place Inv'rs,
L.L.C., No. 4-17-cv-1607-CAS, 2018 WL 3363795, *4 (E.D.
Mo. July 10, 2018) (quoting AT&T Mobility LLC v.
Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 339 (2011)) (other citation
and internal quotation marks omitted).
arbitration is a matter of contract, whether an arbitration
provision is valid is a matter of state contract law, and an
arbitration provision may be invalidated by generally
applicable contract defenses, such as fraud, duress, or
unconscionability[.]” Torres v. Simpatico,
Inc., 781 F.3d 963, 968 (8th Cir. 2015) (citations and
internal quotation marks omitted). “If a valid and
enforceable arbitration agreement exists under state-law
contract principles, any dispute that falls within the scope
of that agreement must be submitted to arbitration.”
Torres, 781 F.3d at 968 (citing Faber v.
Menard, 367 F.3d 1048, 1052 (8th Cir. 2004). When
presented with a motion to compel arbitration, the
Court's role is limited to two inquiries: “(1)
whether there is a valid arbitration agreement and (2)
whether the particular dispute falls within the terms of the
agreement.” Robinson v. EOR-ARK, LLC, 841 F.3d
781, 783-84 (8th Cir. 2016) (citation and quotation mark
omitted). “The party seeking to compel arbitration
bears the burden of proving the existence of a valid and
enforceable arbitration agreement.” Driver,
2018 WL 3363795, at *4 (citation and quotation marks
may also “agree to arbitrate ‘gateway’
questions of ‘arbitrability, ’ such as whether
the parties have agreed to arbitrate or whether their
agreement covers a particular controversy.”
Rent-A-Center, 561 U.S. at 68-69 (citations
omitted). “An agreement to arbitrate a gateway issue is
simply an additional, antecedent agreement the party seeking
arbitration asks the federal court to enforce, and the FAA
operates on this additional arbitration agreement just as it
does on any other.” Id. at 70. Agreements to
arbitrate gateway issues are often called delegation
provisions. See Id . at 71.
The Delegation Provision in the February 6, 2018 Terms is
Valid and Enforceable
moves the Court to dismiss this case as all the claims are
subject to arbitration. In support, Defendants argue the
parties agreed to a valid arbitration provision, located in
the February 6, 2018 Terms of Service, which control
Plaintiff’s claims. Defendants further argue the
arbitration agreement includes a delegation provision
requiring gateway issues of arbitrability to be decided by an
arbitrator. (Doc. 13-1.) Plaintiff argues the agreement is
invalid due to duress and that his claims fall within
exceptions to the arbitration provision. “There are two
types of validity challenges under § 2” of the
One type challenges specifically the validity of the
agreement to arbitrate, and [t]he other challenges the
contract as a whole, either on a ground that directly affects
the entire agreement (e.g., the agreement was
fraudulently induced), or on the ground that the illegality
of one ...