United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
CAMILLE BARKSDALE, individually and on behalf of all others Plaintiffs,
BACKYARD PRODCUTS, LLC d/b/a BACKYARD STORAGE SOLUTIONS, LLC; BACKYARD SERVICES, LLC; HEARTLAND INDUSTRIES, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND
DISMISS, OR ALTERNATIVELY, TO STAY PROCCEEDINGS
putative class action alleges violations of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act (“FCRA”). Plaintiff Camille
Barksdale (“Plaintiff”) asserts that after she
applied for employment with Defendants Backyard Products, LLC
d/b/a Backyard Storage Solutions, LLC; Backyard Services,
LLC; and Heartland Industries (collectively
“Defendants”), Defendants ordered her credit
report without her consent, or without providing her with the
appropriate disclosure, both of which are FCRA violations.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Compel
Plaintiff to Arbitrate Claims on an Individualized Basis and
Dismiss or, Alternatively, Stay this Proceeding Pending
Completion of the Arbitration (Doc. 12). Because the
purported arbitration agreement lacks mutual assent due to
Defendants failure to sign it, no agreement exists under
Missouri law. The motion is DENIED.
following facts are not in dispute. Plaintiff applied to work
for Defendants in October 2018. A representative of
Defendants gave her a packet of pre-hire paperwork to
complete, including an Installation Agreement (“the
Agreement”). After Plaintiff completed and returned the
pre-hire paperwork, Defendants ordered her Consumer Report
from First Advantage. Plaintiff alleges Defendants did not
provide her with the proper disclosure, or obtain her
authorization, before obtaining the report.
nine of the Agreement, titled “Other, ” contains
a provision in which the parties agree to arbitrate
“any dispute or claim involving this Agreement”
under the rules of the American Arbitration Association.
Installation Agreement, § 9.1 (Doc. 13-1). At the end of
the Agreement, under the phrase “ACCEPTED and
AGREED” in bold, are two signature blocks, one for a
Defendants' representative to sign and one for the
“Contractor” (the job applicant), to sign. It is
undisputed that Plaintiff signed the Agreement, but a
representative of the Defendants did not.
filed the Petition (Doc. 1, pp. 7-22) in the Circuit Court of
Clinton County, Missouri, and Defendants timely removed the
case to federal court.
the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.,
arbitration agreements are “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. When presented with a motion to compel arbitration,
a federal court asks “only (1) whether there is a valid
arbitration agreement and (2) whether the particular dispute
falls within the terms of that agreement.” Robinson
v. EOR-ARK, LLC, 841 F.3d 781, 783-84 (8th Cir. 2016)
(citations and quotations omitted). If the answer to both
questions is yes, the court must order arbitration.
turns on the application of state contract law. Torres v.
Simpatico, Inc., 781 F.3d 963, 968 (8th Cir. 2015).
“The elements required to form a valid contract in
Missouri are offer, acceptance, and bargained for
consideration.” Frye v. Speedway Chevrolet
Cadillac, 321 S.W.3d 429, 436 (Mo.Ct.App. 2010)
(citations and quotations omitted). The party moving to
compel arbitration bears the burden of proving these
elements. Clemmons v. Kansas City Chiefs Football Club,
Inc., 397 S.W.3d 503, 506 (Mo.Ct.App. 2013).
Plaintiff contends the Agreement is not valid because the
parties did not mutually assent. Defendants respond that the
Agreement is valid, and that under the AAA's rules-which
were incorporated into the Agreement-the question whether a
contract was formed or is enforceable is for the arbitrator
to answer, not the Court.
There was not mutual assent to arbitration.
and acceptance requires a mutual agreement.” Baier
v. Darden Rests., 420 S.W.3d 733, 738 (Mo.Ct.App. 2014).
“A mutual agreement is reached when the minds of the
contracting parties meet upon and assent to the same thing in
the same sense at the same time.” Youngs v.
Conley, 505 S.W.3d 305, 314 (Mo.Ct.App. 2016)
(citations, quotations, and alterations omitted). “A
meeting of the minds occurs when there is a definite offer
and an unequivocal acceptance.” Id. (citations
and quotations omitted) (emphasis in original). Under
Missouri law, a “party's signature on a contract
remains the common, though not exclusive, method of
demonstrating agreement.” Baier, 420 S.W.3d at