United States District Court, D. Maryland
Leo R. Byrnes
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc.
MEMORANDUM TO COUNSEL RE:
before the Court is Plaintiff Leo R. Byrnes's Motion to
Stay Pending Arbitration (ECF No. 2) and Defendant's,
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. (“Santa
Fe”), Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 10). The Motions are
ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons
outlined below, the Court will grant Santa Fe's Motion
and deny Byrnes's Motion.
was a sales representative for Santa Fe from 2007 to 2013.
(Id. ¶¶ 13, 18). He alleges that his
supervisors “targeted [him] for discharge and
termination because of his age, ” despite his decades
of experience and excellent sales performance. (Id.
¶ 16). Santa Fe terminated Byrnes in March 2013 based
upon an allegedly false performance rating in which
Byrnes's supervisors concluded Byrnes “Fails to
Meet” performance requirements. (Id. ¶
18). On June 29, 2016, Byrnes filed his Complaint, a Demand
for Arbitration, and a Motion to Stay Pending Arbitration.
(ECF Nos. 1, 2). Byrnes asserts age-discrimination claims
under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29
U.S.C. §§ 621, et. seq. (2012). (Compl.
¶ 1, ECF No. 1). Byrnes and Santa Fe both acknowledge
that Byrnes's employment contract contained an
arbitration agreement and the parties agreed to arbitrate
this dispute. Santa Fe, though, opposes Byrnes's Motion
to Stay and filed a Motion to Dismiss on July 18, 2016. (ECF
No. 10). On August 4, 2016, Byrnes filed a Response (ECF No.
17) and on August 22, 2016, Santa Fe filed a Reply (ECF No.
first argues a stay is necessary to “protect and
preserve” his claims in the event that Santa Fe seeks
to dismiss the arbitration proceedings. (Pl. Resp. at 1-2,
ECF No. 17). If, however, all his claims are subject to
arbitration-as Byrnes acknowledges here-“no useful
purpose will be served by staying the pertinent proceedings
pending arbitration.” Taylor v. Santander Consumer
USA, Inc., No. DKC 15-0442, 2015 WL 5178018, at *7
(D.Md. Sept. 3, 2015) (quoting In re Titanium Dioxide
Antitrust Litig., 962 F.Supp.2d 840, 856 (D.Md. 2013)).
Additionally, if Byrnes disagrees with the arbitrator's
final decision, he can request a judicial review of the
arbitrator's reward. Styles v. Triple Crown
Publ'ns, LLC, No. WDQ-11-3759, 2013 WL 3944471, at
*7 n.19 (D.Md. July 30, 2013) (quoting Sea-Land Serv.,
Inc. v. Sea-Land of P.R., Inc., 636 F.Supp. 750, 757
(D.P.R. 1986)). Accordingly, the Court concludes that
preserving Byrnes's claims through a stay is unnecessary.
next argues that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C.
§ 3 (2012), requires a stay of an arbitrable claim.
Byrnes relies on Hooters of America, Inc. v.
Phillips, where the court, interpreting § 3 of the
FAA, held that “the FAA commands the federal courts to
stay any ongoing judicial proceeding.” 173 F.3d 933,
937 (4th Cir. 1999). Byrnes's interpretation of
Hooters, however, overlooks that Hooters
dealt with the enforceability of an arbitration agreement.
Id. at 937. Hooters failed to address
whether a stay is mandated when an arbitration provision is
enforceable, and only held that a stay is preferable to a
court continuing with a case while arbitration is pending.
Id. at 936-37 (recognizing the “longstanding
judicial hostility to arbitration” that the FAA's
“liberal federal policy favoring arbitration
agreements” reversed when enacted in 1925) (internal
fact, contrary to Byrnes's interpretation of § 3,
the Fourth Circuit in Choice Int'l Hotels, Inc. v.
BSR Tropicana Resort, Inc., held,
“[n]otwithstanding the terms of § 3 . . .
dismissal is a proper remedy when all of the issues presented
in a lawsuit are arbitrable.” 252 F.3d 707, 709-10 (4th
Cir. 2001). In Choice Hotels, the Fourth Circuit
analyzed the arbitrability of plaintiff's claims, rather
than the general enforceability of the arbitration agreement,
as it did in Hooters. See id. at 710-11
(considering the applicability of the arbitration
agreement's exception to each of the plaintiff's
claims). The Fourth Circuit ultimately stayed the case in
Choice Hotels finding arbitration was inapplicable
to one of the plaintiff's several claims. See
id. at 712 (“Choice's complaint is not subject
to dismissal, because it contains at least one non-arbitrable
while acknowledging Choice Hotels, argues there is
unresolved “tension” or inconsistency in the
Fourth Circuit between Choice Hotels and
Hooters. See Aggarao v. MOL Shipping Mgmt. Co.,
Ltd., 675 F.3d 355, 376 n.18 (4th Cir. 2012)
(“There may be some tension between our decision in
Hooters . . . and Choice Hotels.”).
The Fourth Circuit, however, has relied on Choice
Hotels to dismiss cases where all of the claims are
subject to arbitration. See Poteat v. Rich Prods.
Corp., 91 F.App'x 832, 835 (4th Cir. 2004)
(compelling arbitration and dismissing the action where all
of the claims are arbitrable, citing Choice Hotels).
Following this line of Fourth Circuit decisions, courts in
the District of Maryland have uniformly dismissed cases where
all of the claims are arbitrable. See, e.g., Van
Horn v. Symantec, No. GJH-15-1452, 2015 WL 8751411, at
*2 (D.Md. Dec. 14, 2015) (relying on Choice Hotels
to dismiss the matter because the claim is subject to
arbitration); Bey v. Midland Credit Mgmt., No.
GJH-15-1329, 2016 WL 1226648, at *5 (D.Md. Mar. 23, 2016)
(granting defendant's motion to dismiss when it moved to
stay or in the alternative dismiss, holding that
“because all of the Plaintiff's claims . . . are
subject to arbitration, dismissal of this action is
appropriate”). Here, because both Byrnes and Santa Fe
agree that all of Byrnes's claims are arbitrable, the
Court will grant Santa Fe's Motion to Dismiss.
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS Santa Fe's Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 10) and DENIES Byrnes's Motion to Stay
Pending Arbitration (ECF No. 2). Despite the informal nature
of this memorandum, it shall constitute an Order of this
Court, and the Clerk is directed to docket it accordingly and
CLOSE this case.
L. Russell, III United ...