United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND
DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
AND TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF'S CLASS CLAIMS
N. Parrish, United States District Court Judge.
the court is Defendant N.A.R., Inc.'s motion to compel
arbitration and to strike Plaintiff Erica Lowery's class
claims. [Docket 9]. The court GRANTS the request to compel
arbitration and refers to arbitration the request to strike
the class claims.
October 1, 2014, Erica Lowery leased furniture under a
rent-to-own agreement. She financed the transaction through
Crest Financial Services, LLC, which maintained a security
interest in the furniture. She signed a lease agreement that
defines the parties to the agreement so as to include any
successors and assigns to Crest Financial's rights under
the agreement. On or about February 16, 2017, Crest Financial
assigned Lowery's obligation to N.A.R., Inc. (NAR) for
collection. On June 13, 2017, NAR sent a notice to Lowery
regarding the debt owed. On June 13, 2018, Lowery filed a
class action complaint against NAR, alleging violations of
the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
lease agreement contains an arbitration provision that allows
either party to the agreement to demand arbitration of any
claim or dispute arising under the lease. NAR now demands
arbitration. NAR also asks the court to strike Lowery's
did not file a memorandum in opposition to NAR's motion.
The court therefore bases its decision on the factual
allegations in Lowery's complaint and in NAR's
motion, as well as in the exhibits accompanying those
MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
2 of the Federal Arbitration Act states, in relevant part,
[a] written provision in . . . a contract evidencing a
transaction involving commerce to settle by arbitration a
controversy thereafter arising out of such contract or
transaction, or the refusal to perform the whole or any part
thereof, . . . 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. This provision reflects the
“fundamental principle that arbitration is a matter of
contract.” AT&T Mobility LLC v.
Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333, 339 (2011) (citation omitted).
In light of this policy, a court must enforce an arbitration
provision as it would any other contractual provision.
determining whether a dispute is governed by an existing
arbitration clause, the court classifies the clause either as
narrow or broad. Sanchez v. Nitro-Lift Techs.,
L.L.C., 762 F.3d 1139, 1146 (10th Cir. 2014). To
accomplish this, the court looks for any limiting language in
the clause that restricts arbitration to specific disputes.
See Id. Language in the clause applying arbitration
to “disputes ‘arising under' or ‘in
connection with' the agreement” is construed
broadly. Id. at 1147.
arbitration provision of the lease agreement that Lowery
signed is broad. Subparagraph 16(c)(i) of the agreement
states “[i]f a lawsuit is filed, the Defending Party
may elect to demand arbitration under this Arbitration
Provision of the Claim(s) asserted in the lawsuit. . . . A
demand to arbitrate a Claim may be given in papers or motions
in a lawsuit.” Subparagraph 16(b)(ii) defines
“Claim” as “any claim, dispute or
controversy . . . that arises from or relates in any way to
this Lease or the Property . . .; any of our marketing,
advertising, solicitations and conduct relating to this
Lease, the Property . . .; [or] our collection of any amounts
you owe . . . .” The same subparagraph states that
“‘Claim' is to be given the broadest
reasonable meaning and includes claims of every kind and
nature.” This arbitration provision is broad because,
by its terms, it encompasses all substantive claims
“aris[ing] from or relat[ing] in any way” to the
lease agreement. Further, there is not any language in the
provision excluding arbitration of disputes over the manner
in which the creditor collects on the debt. Indeed, the
arbitration provision expressly includes disputes over
“collection of any amounts [owed].”
arbitration provision notably does not cover “disputes
about the validity, enforceability, coverage or scope”
of the provision itself, as stated in subparagraph 16(b)(ii).
The subparagraph goes on to state that “all such
disputes are for a court and not an arbitrator to
decide.” But Lowery has not disputed the scope of the
arbitration provision inasmuch as she has not filed a
memorandum in opposition to NAR's motion. Accordingly,
there is no dispute that this court has authority to decide
the question of arbitrability and send the case to
arbitration. See Belnap v. Iasis Healthcare, 844