United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Gettleman United States District Judge.
Rico Tillman, individually and on behalf of all others
similarly situated, brought a class action complaint against
defendant Hertz Corporation, alleging violations of the
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), 47
U.S.C. § 227 et seq. Defendant has moved, pursuant to
the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9.U.S.C.
§ 1 et seq., to compel arbitration and dismiss, or to
stay litigation pending arbitration. Plaintiff opposes the
motion. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion
complaint, plaintiff alleges that he received six telephone
calls from defendant in February 2016, starting February 18
and ending February 25. The telephone calls consisted of the
following pre-recorded message:
This is the vehicle control department calling in reference
to a rental vehicle that does not show returned. It is urgent
that you contact us at (800) 552-8482. Please have the
following rental agreement number available when you call:
to plaintiff, he did not consent to receiving these telephone
calls. Plaintiff alleges, and defendant confirms, that
plaintiff's mother gave defendant plaintiff's
telephone number as an “emergency contact” when
she rented a car from defendant on January 5, 2016.
subsequently rented a car from defendant on January 18, 2016,
and defendant was again provided plaintiff's telephone
number, this time by plaintiff's insurance provider.
Plaintiff rented another car from defendant on January 25,
2016. Defendant contends (and plaintiff disputes) that both
of the car rental agreements plaintiff signed in January 2016
contained an arbitration provision. It is upon these
arbitration provisions that defendant relies in seeking to
compel arbitration. Both parties agree that the February 2016
telephone calls related to plaintiff's mother's
rental car - specifically, defendant's efforts to recover
the car after it was not returned.
review a motion to compel arbitration under a summary
judgment standard in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56(c). Tickanen v. Harris & Harris,
Ltd., 461 F.Supp.2d 863, 866 (E.D.Wis. 2006). Movants
are required to “provide sufficient evidence in support
of their claims such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for them under applicable law.” WFC
Commodities Corp. v. Linnco Futures Group, Inc., 1998 WL
834374 at *2 (N.D. Ill. 1998). The court may consider
exhibits and affidavits regarding the arbitration agreement
in question. Reineke v. Circuit City Stores, Inc.,
2004 WL 442639 at *1 (N.D. Ill. 2004).
the FAA, federal courts are in the gatekeeper position of
determining whether a dispute is one that the parties
intended to arbitrate and is therefore arbitrable. See
AT&T Techs., Inc. v. Communications Workers of
Am., 475 U.S. 643 (1986). A party cannot be forced to
arbitrate a claim without previously agreeing to arbitrate
that claim. See Kiefer Specialty Flooring, Inc. v.
Tarkett, 174 F.3d 907, 909 (7th Cir. 1993); see also
AT&T Techs., Inc., 475 U.S. at 648
(“arbitrators derive their authority to resolve
disputes only because the parties have agreed in advance to
submit such grievances to arbitration”). Additionally,
courts “may not expand the application of an
arbitration clause beyond its intended scope.”
Thomas v. Am. Gen. Fin., Inc., 2009 WL 781078, at *2
(N.D. Ill. Mar. 23, 2009) (citing Am. United Logistics,
Inc. v. Catellus Dev. Corp., 319 F.3d 921, 929 (7th Cir.
2003)). Accordingly, “when presented with a question of
arbitrability, the court will defer to the parties'
intent to determine: (1) whether there is a valid arbitration
agreement; and (2) whether the parties' dispute falls
within the scope of that agreement.” Id.
contends that he cannot be compelled to arbitrate this TCPA
case because he disputes the validity of the arbitration
agreements that defendant claims he signed. Defendant
contends that the validity of those agreements is not for
this court to decide because the issue of validity is the
province of the arbitrator. Defendant is correct, but for the
validity of any arbitration agreements between plaintiff and
defendant is not a question before the court because whether
plaintiff entered into valid arbitration agreements with
defendant when he signed the two January 2016 car rental
agreements is irrelevant. The instant dispute arises not from
the contractual relationship between plaintiff and defendant,
but rather from the contract between plaintiff's mother
and defendant - a contract to which plaintiff was not a
party. Therefore, even if plaintiff did enter into valid
arbitration agreements when he rented cars from defendant,
those arbitration agreements would not apply to a dispute
regarding plaintiff's mother's rental car.
arbitration agreement that plaintiff's mother may have
entered into with defendant cannot bind plaintiff to
arbitration in the instant dispute. See Hospira, Inc. v.
Therabel Pharma N.V., 2013 WL 3811488 at *11 (N.D.
Ill.2013) (“a party that has not signed an arbitration
agreement is not bound by it, and therefore cannot be
compelled to arbitrate”) (citing Grundstad v.
Ritt, 106 F.3d 201, 204 (7th Cir. 1997)). It is possible
to bind a non-signatory to an arbitration clause in some
circumstances, such as when subsequent conduct indicates that
the non-signatory is assuming the contractual obligation to
arbitrate. See id. at *12. In the instant context,
however, plaintiff entered into contracts with defendant that
were totally separate from and completely unrelated to his
mother's contract with defendant. By entering into those
separate contracts plaintiff assumed no obligation to
arbitrate disputes that arose from defendant's contract
with plaintiff's mother, and defendant has offered no
evidence to demonstrate that plaintiff assumed the obligation
to arbitrate any disputes that arose from defendant's
contract with plaintiff's mother.
defendant argues that plaintiff is bound by the arbitration
agreements that he allegedly signed when he rented two cars
from defendant. According to defendant, the arbitration
agreements that plaintiff allegedly entered into apply to the
instant case because they encompass disputes arising from any
and all communications between plaintiff and defendant,
regardless of whether ...