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Sanders v. Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 16, 2017

CLAUDETTE SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CONCORDE CAREER COLLEGES, INC., and COMPUTER CAREER INSTITUTE, INC., Defendants.

          Beth Creighton Creighton & Rose, PC Attorney for Plaintiff

          Patrick C. Wylie Davis Rothwell Earle & Xochihua P.C Bryce A. Young Edward M. Cramp Duane Morris LLP Attorneys for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER

          MARCO A. HERNÁNDEZ United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Claudette Sanders brings this action against Concorde Career Colleges, Inc. (“Concorde”) and Computer Career Institute, Inc., alleging violations of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 2000d and Oregon state law. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Concorde discriminated against her on the basis of her race and retaliated against her for reporting racial discrimination. Before the Court is Defendants' motion to compel arbitration. ECF 11. The motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, an African American female, enrolled in Concorde's Surgical Technology program (“the Program”) on June 18, 2014. Plaintiff enrolled in the program by signing an Enrollment Agreement (“2014 Enrollment Agreement”). Ierien Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. A, ECF 13. The 2014 Enrollment Agreement included an arbitration provision stating that:

Any dispute arising from enrollment at Concorde Career College, no matter how described, pleaded or styled, shall be resolved by binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act conducted by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”) at Portland, Oregon, under its Commercial Rules. The award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction.

Id. Ex. A at 1. Plaintiff alleges that during her 2014 enrollment in the Program, she was subject to race discrimination. Compl. ¶¶ 8-16. Plaintiff was withdrawn from the Program in May of 2015, allegedly for unsatisfactory academic performance. Ierien Decl. ¶ 9. In July of 2015, Plaintiff reported her concerns regarding race discrimination to Concorde's dean and to Defendants' campus president Kim Ierien. Compl. ¶¶ 18-20. In December of 2015, Plaintiff also reported race discrimination to Defendants' student affairs advisor. Id. at ¶ 21.

         Plaintiff reenrolled in the Program on December 1, 2015. Ierien Decl. Ex. B at 1. As part of her reenrollment, Plaintiff signed a second Enrollment Agreement (“2015 Enrollment Agreement”). Id. The 2015 Enrollment Agreement was filled out electronically and signed electronically. Id.; Ierien Reply Decl. ¶5, Ex. D, ECF 25. Prior to signing the 2015 Enrollment Agreement, Plaintiff also signed an Electronic Signature and Consent Form, making her electronic signature binding. Ierien Reply Decl. Ex. D. The 2015 Enrollment Agreement also contained an arbitration provision identical to the one in the 2014 Enrollment Agreement. Ierien Decl. Ex. B at 1.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' racial discrimination continued during her second enrollment in the Program. Compl. ¶¶ 23-25. For the second time, Plaintiff was withdrawn from the Program for unsatisfactory academic performance. Ierien Decl. ¶ 12. Plaintiff reported race discrimination to Defendants' corporate office and appealed her expulsion from the Program. Compl. ¶¶ 28-31. Her appeal was denied and on May 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging unlawful discrimination. Id. ¶¶ 32-33. Ultimately, Plaintiff was invited back to the Program on the condition that she sign a third Enrollment Agreement (“2016 Enrollment Agreement”) and a separate Arbitration Agreement. Ierien Decl. ¶¶ 13-14, Ex. C; Sanders Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. 1, ECF 24. Plaintiff refused to sign the paperwork and as a result Defendants refused to re-admit her to the Program. Id. ¶ 11.

         On October 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Complaint in this Court alleging four separate counts of race discrimination and retaliation against Defendants under Federal and state law. Plaintiff refused Defendants' request to withdraw her Complaint and submit the parties' dispute to arbitration. Young Decl. ¶¶ 2-4, Exs. A & B. Defendants then filed a motion to compel arbitration arguing that this Court should dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint and enforce the arbitration provisions contained in the 2014 and 2015 Enrollment Agreements.

         STANDARDS

         Defendant asserts and Plaintiff does not contest that Rule 12(b)(1) applies to motions to dismiss based on arbitration. The Court recognizes, however, that courts are divided as to whether a court's authority to dismiss under these circumstances stems from Rules 12(b)(1), (b)(3), or (b)(6).[1] For purposes this Motion, whether a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim applies does not change this Court's decision. Under either Rule, the Court can review the extrinsic documents submitted by the parties. In considering a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, the court may consider evidence outside the pleadings to resolve factual disputes. Robinson v. United States, 586 F.3d 683, 685 (9th Cir. 2009). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the district court “may consider a document the authenticity of which is not contested, and upon which the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies.” Parrino v. FHP, Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 706 (9th Cir. 1998), as amended (July 28, 1998).

         The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), states that written agreements to arbitrate arising out of transactions involving interstate commerce “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. If the issue is referable to arbitration under the agreement, then the court must direct the issue to arbitration and stay the trial. 9 U.S.C. § 3. An ...


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