United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. ALONSO United States District Judge.
Eric Chausse, filed this action against Career Education
Corporation, CEC Food and Beverage LLC, Le Cordon Bleu
College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, and The Cooking and
Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Inc. for defendants'
alleged violation of Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C § 12181 et seq.
Defendants move to compel arbitration and dismiss this
action. For the reasons explained below, the Court grants
who is legally blind, alleges that defendants unlawfully
denied him enrollment at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary
Arts in Chicago (“Le Cordon Bleu”), a cooking
school. (ECF No. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 1, 9, 12.) Chausse
alleges that he applied to Le Cordon Bleu and defendants sent
him a letter in October 2014 informing him that he was not
eligible or qualified for admission because he is blind.
(Id. ¶ 13.) He further alleges that defendants
could have reasonably accommodated his disability.
(Id. ¶ 15.)
move to compel arbitration and dismiss this action on the
basis that when plaintiff applied for admission in 2010, he
entered into an Enrollment Agreement that requires
arbitration of potential claims or disputes between the
to compel arbitration concern venue and are properly
addressed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3).
Grasty v. Colo. Tech. Univ., 599 F. App'x 596,
597 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Jackson v. Payday Fin.,
LLC, 764 F.3d 765, 773 (7th Cir. 2014)); Johnson v.
Orkin, LLC, 556 F. App'x 543, 544 (7th Cir. 2014)
(an arbitration clause is “simply a type of
forum-selection clause, ” and a motion seeking
dismissal based on an agreement to arbitrate therefore should
be decided under Rule 12(b)(3)). The Court may consider
materials outside the pleadings when evaluating such a
motion. Johnson, 556 F. App'x at 544-45.
Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) governs the
enforceability of arbitration clauses in state and federal
courts. Jain v. de Méré, 51 F.3d 686,
688 (7th Cir. 1995). Under the FAA, an arbitration agreement
in “a contract evidencing a transaction involving
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. The
Court must grant a motion to compel arbitration under the FAA
where the parties have a written arbitration agreement and
the asserted claims are within its scope. 9 U.S.C.
§§ 3-4; Sharif v. Wellness Int'l Network,
Ltd., 376 F.3d 720, 726 (7th Cir. 2004). “To
determine whether a contract's arbitration clause applies
to a given dispute, federal courts apply state-law principles
of contract formation.” Gore v. Alltel
Commc'ns, LLC, 666 F.3d 1027, 1032 (7th Cir. 2012).
The parties cite Illinois law in their briefs, so the Court
will apply Illinois law. See Faulkenberg v. CB Tax
Franchise Sys., LP, 637 F.3d 801, 809 (7th Cir. 2011).
deciding a motion to compel arbitration, the court's duty
is simply to determine whether the parties' dispute
belongs in arbitration, not to rule on the potential merits
of the underlying claim. AT & T Techs., Inc. v.
Commc'ns Workers of Am., 475 U.S. 643, 649 (1986).
The party opposing arbitration bears the burden of
establishing why the arbitration provision should not be
enforced, Green Tree Financial Corp.-Alabama v.
Randolph, 531 U.S. 79, 91-92 (2000), and “must
identify a triable issue of fact concerning the existence of
the agreement in order to obtain a trial on the merits of the
contract, ” Tinder v. Pinkerton Security, 305
F.3d 728, 735 (7th Cir. 2002). “[T]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor.” Id.
contend that the Court should dismiss this action and compel
arbitration of plaintiff's claim because plaintiff
entered into a contract to arbitrate enrollment-related
disputes and any claims related to his relationship with
defendants. Defendants submit evidence that when Chausse
applied to Le Cordon Bleu on September 30, 2010, he entered
into a four-page written Enrollment Agreement with The
Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Inc. (the
“College”), which operates Le Cordon Bleu, that
contained an arbitration provision providing in pertinent
Any disputes, claims, or controversies between the parties to
this Enrollment Agreement arising out of or relating to (i)
this Enrollment Agreement; (ii) the Student's
recruitment, enrollment, attendance, or education; (iii)
financial aid or career service assistance by the College;
(iv) any claim, no matter how described, pleaded, or styled,
relating, in any manner, to any act or omission regarding the
Student's relationship with the College, its employees,
or with externship sites or their employees; or (v) any
objection to arbitrability or the existence, scope, validity,
construction, or enforceability of this Arbitration Agreement
shall be resolved pursuant to this paragraph (the
“Arbitration Agreement”). . . . Unless the
parties agree to an alternative, the arbitration shall be
administered by the American Arbitration Association
(“AAA”). . . . All in-person hearings and
conferences in the arbitration shall take place in a locale
near the College unless the Student and the College agree
otherwise. . . . Each party shall bear the expense of its own
counsel, experts, witnesses, and preparation and presentation
of proofs. All fees and expenses of the arbitrator and
administrative fees and expenses of the arbitration shall be
paid by the parties as provided by the AAA's Commercial
Arbitration Rules, including the Supplementary Procedures for
Consumer-Related Disputes . . . . This Arbitration Agreement
will survive the termination of the Student's
relationship with the College.
(ECF Nos. 11 & 11-1, Defs.' Mem. Supp. Mot., Ex. 1,
Decl. of Laura Rice ¶ 6 & Ex. A, Chausse Enrollment
Agreement at 4.) Above plaintiff's signature, the
Enrollment Agreement also states: “THIS CONTRACT
CONTAINS A BINDING ARBITRATION PROVISION WHICH MAY BE
ENFORCED BY THE PARTIES.” (Id. at 2.)
asserts in response to defendants' motion that he is not
complaining about Le Cordon Bleu's failure to accommodate
him in relation to his 2010 enrollment application, but in
relation to a 2014 enrollment application. He filed a
declaration in which he states that he applied to Le Cordon
Bleu on July 15, 2014, by submitting an online application,
and “during” that application, “there was
no language related to arbitration.” (ECF No. 16-1,
Decl. of Eric ...