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Dios v. Brand Energy And Infrastructure Services

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

June 13, 2018

SAMUEL DE DIOS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRAND ENERGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR STAY AND COMPEL ARBITRATION and PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CONDUCT DISCOVERY

          MARK W. BENNETT, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 2

         A. Factual Background ............................................................... 2

         1. The arbitration agreement ................................................ 2

         2. The accident and aftermath .............................................. 4

         B. Procedural Background ........................................................... 5

         II. LEGAL ANALYSIS ........................................................................ 6

         A. The Motion To Conduct Discovery .............................................. 6

         1. Arguments of the parties .................................................. 7

         2. Applicable standards ....................................................... 7

         3. Application of the standards ............................................. 9

         B. The Motion To Compel Arbitration ........................................... 12

         1. Arguments of the parties ................................................ 12

         2. Applicable standards ..................................................... 13

         3. Application of the standards ........................................... 15

         a. Unconscionability ................................................ 15

         b. Lack of consideration ........................................... 18

         4. Summary ................................................................... 19

         C. Dismiss Or Stay? .................................................................. 19

         III. CONCLUSION ............................................................................ 20

         In this action, originally filed in the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County and removed to this court, plaintiff Samuel De Dios claims that his former employer, defendant Brand Energy And Infrastructure Services, wrongfully terminated him for asserting rights under the Iowa Workers' Compensation Act. Brand has moved dismiss or, alternatively, to stay, and compel arbitration of De Dios's claim pursuant to an Agreement to Arbitrate in De Dios's employment application. De Dios contends that the court should not enforce the Agreement to Arbitrate, because it is unconscionable, where signing it was a condition of his employment and it binds only him, and because there is no consideration for it. De Dios also seeks leave to conduct discovery to further develop the factual record on the pending Motion To Compel Arbitration.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         A. Factual Background

         1. The arbitration agreement

         As part of his application for employment with Brand, De Dios signed the following Agreement to Arbitrate:

TO BE READ AND SIGNED BY APPLICANT
I understand my employment is contingent on acceptance of agreement to arbitrate claims, under FAA, and I DO AGREE AND CONSENT that I will settle any and all previously unasserted claims, disputes, or controversies arising out of or relating to my candidacy for employment, employment and/or cessation of employment with Brand, exclusively by final and binding arbitration before a neutral Arbitrator. By way of example only, such claims include claims under federal, state, and local statutory or common law, such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, including the amendments of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the law of contract and the law of tort.

         Defendant's Exhibit A, Excerpt of Application, page 2 of 4.

         On the date of his application, De Dios also signed a Brand Dispute Resolution Program Acknowledgement, which stated the following:

I have received, read and understand the Brand Dispute Resolution Program for Employees. I also understand and agree that as a condition of my at-will employment and continued employment, I will submit to and seek to resolve any disputes arising out of or relating to my application or candidacy for employment, employment and/or cessation of employment through the Brand Dispute Resolution Program. I understand that this Dispute Resolution Program provides for binding arbitration as the exclusive, final and required method to resolve all covered claims that I otherwise have a right to litigate in court.
I acknowledge that I have had sufficient time to review and consider the Brand Dispute Resolution Program, and to ask whatever questions I may have about the Program to the Company or to my private ...

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