United States District Court, S.D. Florida
JOSE GARCIA, LEDVIN ALARCON, and all others similarly situated under 219 U.S.C. § 216b, Plaintiffs,
J&J, INC., d/b/a EAGLE PAINTING, JANET S. FIELD and JOHN H. FIELD, Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS AND COMPEL
ARBITRATION AND FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING AND/OR ORAL
BLOOM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendant J&J
Inc.'s (“Defendant” or “Eagle
Painting”) Motion to Stay Proceedings and Compel
Arbitration as to Opt-In Plaintiffs, Walter J. Contreras and
Jonathan “Quincy” Oliver, and accompanying
request for hearing, ECF Nos. , and , (together, the
“Motion”). The Court has carefully reviewed the
Motion, all opposing and supporting submissions, the record
in this case and the applicable law, and is otherwise fully
advised. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is
Garcia and Alarcon filed this action, on behalf of themselves
and all others similarly situated, alleging that Defendants
failed to provide overtime compensation in violation of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.
§ 216(b). Garcia and Alarcon were employed by Defendants
as painters and allege that they were deprived of overtime
compensation in accordance with the FLSA on more than one
occasion. Garcia and Alarcon sought, and were granted,
conditional certification under the FLSA. ECF No. .
Contreras and Oliver (together, “Plaintiffs”) are
two individuals who have opted in as plaintiffs in this case.
See ECF Nos. , . In the Motion, Eagle
Painting requests that the Court compel arbitration of
Contreras' and Oliver's FLSA claims pursuant to the
terms of an Independent Contractor Agreement
(“Agreement”) signed by each of them.
See ECF Nos. [88-1], [88-2].
presence of a valid arbitration provision raises a strong
presumption of enforcement. See Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 630-31
(1985) (stressing that the enforcement of a mutually agreed
upon arbitration or forum-selection serves as an
“indispensable precondition to the achievement of the
orderliness and predictability essential to any international
business transaction”). Indeed, the Federal Arbitration
Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 1, et seq.
“embodies a ‘liberal federal policy favoring
arbitration agreements.'” Hemispherx Biopharma,
Inc. v. Johannesburg Consol. Invs., 553 F.3d 1351, 1366
(11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v.
Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 24 (1983)).
Accordingly, the FAA requires courts to “rigorously
enforce agreements to arbitrate.” Brandon, Jones,
Sandall, Zeide, Kohn, Chalal & Musso, P.A. v.
MedPartners, Inc., 312 F.3d 1349, 1357-58 (11th Cir.
2002) abrogated on other grounds by Ray Haluch Gravel Co.
v. Cent. Pension Fund of Int'l Union of Operating
Eng'rs & Participating Employers, 134 S.Ct. 773
(2014) (quoting Mitsubishi Motors, 473 U.S. at
625-26); Hemispherx, 553 F.3d at 1366 (“The
role of the courts is to rigorously enforce agreements to
arbitrate.”) (internal citation and quotation omitted).
Under the FAA, a written agreement to arbitrate is
“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.
the courts' proclivity for enforcement, a party will not
be required to arbitrate where the party has not agreed to do
so. Nat'l Auto Lenders, Inc. v. SysLOCATE, Inc.,
686 F.Supp.2d 1318, 1322 (S.D. Fla. 2010) aff'd,
433 Fed.Appx. 842 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing United
Steelworkers of Am. v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation
Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582 (1960)). “Under federal
law, arbitration is a matter of consent, not coercion.”
World Rentals & Sales, LLC v. Volvo Constr. Equip.
Rents, Inc., 517 F.3d 1240, 1244 (11th Cir. 2008). It is
axiomatic that the determination of whether parties have
agreed to submit a dispute to arbitration is an issue of law
subject to judicial resolution. See Granite Rock Co. v.
Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 561 U.S. 287, 296 (2010).
Generally, this determination requires the district court to
apply standard principles of contract garnered from the
applicable state law. First Options of Chicago, Inc. v.
Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 939 (1995) (citation omitted);
see also P&S Bus. Machs., Inc. v. Canon USA,
Inc., 331 F.3d 804, 807 (11th Cir. 2003).
presented with a motion to compel arbitration, a district
court will consider three factors: (1) whether a valid
agreement to arbitrate exists; (2) whether an arbitrable
issue exists; and (3) whether the right to arbitrate was
waived. Nat'l Auto Lenders, 686 F.Supp.2d at
1322 (citation omitted); see also Sims v. Clarendon Nat.
Ins. Co., 336 F.Supp.2d 1311, 1326 (S.D. Fla. 2004)
(citing Marine Envtl. Partners, Inc. v. Johnson, 863
So.2d 423, 426 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); and Seifert v. U.S.
Home Corp., 750 So.2d 633 (Fla. 1999)) (“Under
both federal and Florida law, there are three factors for the
court to consider in determining a party's right to
arbitrate: (1) a written agreement exists between the parties
containing an arbitration clause; (2) an arbitrable issue
exists; and (3) the right to arbitration has not been
its terms, the [FAA] leaves no room for the exercise of
discretion by a district court, but instead mandates that
district courts shall direct the parties to proceed
to arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement
has been signed.” Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc. v.
Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 213 (1985) (emphasis in original).
Thus, if the aforementioned criteria are met, the Court is
required to issue an order compelling arbitration. John
B. Goodman Ltd. P'ship v. THF Constr., Inc., 321
F.3d 1094, 1095 (11th Cir. 2003) (“Under the FAA, 9
U.S.C. § 1 et seq., a district court must grant
a motion to compel arbitration if it is satisfied that the
parties actually agreed to arbitrate the dispute.”).
outset, the Court notes that the parties do not dispute that
the Agreements relied upon by Defendant are between
Plaintiffs' respective corporations-Contreras Painting
& Remodeling, Inc. and Q's Elite Services, Inc.-and
Defendant. In pertinent part, the Agreements state the
Contractor and Company agree that final and binding
arbitration will be the exclusive means of resolving any
disputes between Contractor and Company. [. . .] Contractor
and Company agree to bring any disputes in arbitration on an
individual basis only and not as a class or other collective
ECF No. [88-1] at 4 ¶ 13; ECF No. [88-2] at 4 ¶ 13.
The Agreements explicitly define the terms
“Contractor” as Contreras' and Oliver's
respective corporations, and “Company” as
Defendant Eagle Painting. ECF No. [88-1] at 1; ECF Non.
[88-2] at 2. Accordingly, the arbitration clause of the
Agreements is expressly limited to disputes between
Plaintiffs' corporations and Defendant, and the Court
will not compel arbitration of Contreras' and
Oliver's individual claims against Defendant. See
World Rentals & Sales, LLC, 517 F.3d at 1245-46
(declining to compel arbitration between signatory and
non-signatory where defined terms in agreement did not
include non-signatory). Had the parties intended to bind the
Plaintiffs individually, the Agreements could have expressly
stated as such. However, the Agreements do not and,
therefore, Plaintiffs have not agreed to arbitrate their
in the Motion, Defendant's principal argument that
Contreras and Oliver individually must arbitrate their FLSA
claims is that they should be bound by the arbitration
provision contained in the Agreements with their corporations
because they are agents or alter egos of their corporations.
Defendant also argues that Contreras and Oliver should be
equitably estopped from refusing to comply with the