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Hartman v. Charter Communications, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

March 30, 2015

RICHARD H. HARTMAN, II Plaintiff,
v.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, INC.; CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, LLC; CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS (NC), LLC; CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS VI, LLC; CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS VII, LLC; CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS HOLDING COMPANY, LLC; CHARTER CABLE OPERATING COMPANY, LLC; STRAIGHT FORWARD OF WISCONSIN, INC. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

MARTIN REIDINGER, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Arbitration with Respect to Charter Communications, Inc. [Doc. 18] and the Defendants' Response Opposing in Part and Agreeing in Part to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Arbitration [Doc. 20].

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff initiated this action on September 15, 2014, seeking damages from Charter Communications, Inc.; Charter Communications, LLC; Charter Communications (NC), LLC; Charter Communications VI, LLC; Charter Communications VII, LLC; Charter Communications Holding Company, LLC; and Charter Cable Operating Company (collectively "the Charter Defendants") for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"). [Doc. 1]. On February 9, 2015, the Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint adding Straight Forward of Wisconsin, Inc. ("Straight Forward") as a Defendant. [Doc. 16].

The agreement between the Plaintiff and Charter Communications, Inc. (the "Agreement") contained an arbitration provision:

... This Agreement requires the use of arbitration to resolve disputes and otherwise limits the remedies available to Subscriber in the event of a dispute... Charter and Subscriber agrees to arbitrate disputes and claims arising out of or relating to this Agreement, the Services or marketing of the Services Subscriber has received from Charter... THIS AGREEMENT MEMORIALIZES A TRANSACTION IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE. THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT GOVERNS THE INTERPRETATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THESE ARBITRATION PROVISIONS.

[Doc. 18-1, Section 24].

The Plaintiff filed his Motion to Compel Arbitration with Respect to Defendant Charter Communications, Inc. on February 18, 2015 [Doc. 18], and the Charter Defendants responded opposing in part and agreeing in part to the Plaintiff's motion [Docs. 20-21].

This matter is now ripe for disposition.

II. DISCUSSION

According to the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), § 2:

A written provision in any maritime transaction or 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, or an agreement in writing to submit to arbitration an existing controversy arising out of such a contract, transaction, or refusal, 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.A. § 2. The Fourth Circuit has held that "a litigant can compel arbitration under the FAA if he can demonstrate "(1) the existence of a dispute between the parties, (2) a written agreement that includes an arbitration provision which purports to cover the dispute, (3) the relationship of the transaction, which is evidenced by the agreement, to interstate or foreign commerce, and (4) the failure, neglect or refusal of the defendant to arbitrate the dispute." Whiteside v. Teltech Corp., 940 F.2d 99, 102 (4th Cir. 1991).

Where there is a valid arbitration agreement and a claim has been made raising issues within its scope, "[a] district court... has no choice but to grant a motion to compel arbitration." Adkins v. Labor Ready, Inc., 303 F.3d 496, 500 (4th Cir. 2002). There is a strong public policy in favor of arbitration in North Carolina and on the federal level. See Johnston County v. R.N. Rouse & Co., 331 N.C. 88, ...


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