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Estate of Minter v. Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Wheeling

January 29, 2018

ESTATE OF SYLVIA C. MINTER and DENISE M. MINTER, individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Sylvia C. Minter, Plaintiffs,
v.
BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC and CITIFINANCIAL, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION AND STAY

          JOHN PRESTON BAILEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before this Court for consideration of CitiFinancial, Inc.&#39');">9;s Motion to Compel Arbitration and Stay Proceedings [Doc. 3], filed December 19');">9, 2');">2017. CitiFinancial requests that this Court: (1) order the plaintiffs to arbitrate all claims in the suit; and (2');">2) stay the instant action pending resolution of arbitration. The matter is fully briefed and ripe for review.

         BACKGROUND

         On or about February 19');">9, 2');">2004, Sylvia C. Minter ("Sylvia Minter") took out a loan from CitiFinancial, Inc. ("CitiFinancial") secured by a home mortgage on her home in Wheeling, West Virginia. During the loan transaction, Sylvia Minter entered into a "Disclosure Statement, Note and Security Agreement" ("loan agreement") with CitiFinancial, which affirmed that the "Borrower, Non-Obligor(s) (if any) and Lender have entered into a separate Arbitration Agreement on this date, the terms of which are incorporated and made a part of this Disclosure Statement, Note and Security Agreement by this reference." [Doc. 3-1, 4');">p. 4');">4');">p. 4]. This provision is titled "ARBITRATION, " in capital letters and bolded font, and is set out from the rest of the loan agreement by a box.

         The separate arbitration agreement referenced in the loan agreement, titled "ARBITRATION AGREEMENT, " states that:

THIS ARBITRATION PROVISION PROVIDES THAT ALL DISPUTES BETWEEN BORROWER AND CERTAIN OTHER PERSONS ON THE ONE HAND AND LENDER AND CERTAIN OTHER PERSONS AND ENTITIES ON THE OTHER HAND, EXCEPT THOSE SPECIFIED BELOW, WILL BE RESOLVED BY MANDATORY, BINDING ARBITRATION. YOU THUS GIVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO GO TO COURT TO ASSERT OR DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS (EXCEPT FOR MATTERS THAT ARE EXCLUDED FROM ARBITRATION AS SPECIFIED BELOW). YOUR RIGHTS WILL BE DETERMINED BY A NEUTRAL ARBITRATOR AND NOT A JUDGE OR JURY. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A FAIR HEARING, BUT THE ARBITRATION PROCEDURES ARE SIMPLER AND MORE LIMITED THAN RULES APPLICABLE IN COURT.

[Doc. 3-2');">2, p. 2');">2]. Further, the arbitration agreement also states that either party to the agreement has the "absolute right to demand that any Claim be submitted to an arbitrator in accordance with this Arbitration Agreement." Id. The agreement defines "Claim" as "any case, controversy, dispute, tort, disagreement, lawsuit, or claim" between the parties, and specifically includes, in relevant part, any claims related to the arbitration agreement or the loan agreement, the scope of the arbitration agreement, "[a]ny past, present, or future insurance, service, or other product that is offered or purchased in connection with a Credit Transaction, " "[f]raud or misrepresentation, including claims for failing to disclose material facts, " "[a]ny federal or state statute or regulation, or any alleged violations thereof, including ... lending laws, " "[a]ny party&#39');">9;s execution of this Agreement and/or willingness to be bound by its terms or provisions, " and "[a]ny dispute about closing, servicing, collecting, or enforcing a Credit Transaction." Id.

         The arbitration agreement contains a section detailing the specific claims that are exempt from arbitration, including "[a]ny action to the extent necessary to obtain a judicial order for the purpose of (a) effecting a foreclosure, transferring title being foreclosed ... or (b) establishing, perfecting or clearing title, with respect to an interest in property."[1" name= "FN1" id="FN1">1]

         The arbitration agreement provides that, “[j]urisdictional and arbitrability disputes, including disputes over the existence, validity or scope of this Agreement under which arbitration is sought, shall be submitted to and ruled on by the arbitrator, " and "[t]he arbitrator has the authority to determine jurisdiction and arbitrability prior to conducting a full hearing on the merits." [Doc. 3-2');">2, 3');">p. 3]. Similarly, the arbitration agreement specifically defines "claim" to include "[t]he Note, this Agreement, or the enforceability, or the arbitrability of any Claim pursuant to this Agreement, including but not limited to the scope of this agreement and any defenses to enforcement of the Note or this Agreement." [Doc. 3-2');">2, p. 2');">2]. Finally, directly above the signature line on the final page, the arbitration agreement states:

Special Acknowledgments. You understand and acknowledge by signing Your name to this Agreement that (i) a court and/or jury will not hear or decide any Claim governed by this Agreement, (ii) the funding for Your Credit Transaction will come in whole or in part from sources outside this state, which will involve commerce within the meaning of the United States Arbitration Act, 9');">9 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq., as amended, (iii) discovery in an arbitration proceeding can be much more limited than in a court proceeding, and (iv) rights to appeal an arbitration award are very limited.

READ THE ABOVE ARBITRATION AGREEMENT CAREFULLY, IT LIMITS CERTAIN OF YOUR RIGHTS, INCLUDING YOUR RIGHT TO OBTAIN REDRESS THROUGH COURT ACTION. BY SIGNING BELOW, YOU AGREE TO THE TERMS CONTAINED IN THIS AGREEMENT AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THIS DOCUMENT DID NOT CONTAIN ANY BLANK SPACES WHEN YOU SIGNED IT.

[Doc. 3-2');">2, 3');">p. 3]. Sylvia Minter signed the arbitration agreement directly under this provision and initialed the first page of the two-page agreement. Id.

         On or about November 10, 2');">2017, Denise M. Minter, in her personal capacity and as the Administratrix of Sylvia Minted Estate, filed suit in the Circuit Court of Ohio County against defendants Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC ("Bayview") and CitiFinancial [Doc. 1-1]. Defendant CitiFinancial, with the consent of Bayview, timely removed the action from the Circuit Court of Ohio County to this Court on December 15, 2');">2017 [Doc. 1 ]. The plaintiffs&#39');">9; claims arise from a home secured mortgage loan, and the Complaint alleges eleven counts:

1. Bad Faith;
2');">2. Illegal Pursuit of Forfeiture;
3. Breach of Fiduciary Duty;
4. Unauthorized Charges;
5. Illegal Debt Collection Practices;
6. Fraud/Constructive Fraud;
7. Estoppel;
8. Unjust Enrichment;
9');">9. Conversion;
10. Negligence; and

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