United States District Court, D. Maryland
before the Court are Plaintiff Olawale Sunmonu's Motion
for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunctive
Relief (ECF No. 4) and Defendant Chase Bank N.A.'s
(“Chase Bank”) Motion to Compel Arbitration under
the Federal Arbitration Act (“Motion to Compel
Arbitration”) (ECF No. 14). The Motions are ripe for
disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local
Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the
Court will deny Sunmonu's Motion and grant Chase
a Texas resident, was a longtime customer of Chase Bank.
(Compl. ¶¶ 3, 5, ECF No. 1). As part of that
relationship, Sunmonu and Chase Bank were “parties to a
valid and binding Agreement, The Chase Deposit
Agreement” (the “Deposit Agreement”).
(Id. ¶ 12). Sunmonu agreed to the terms of the
Deposit Agreement on October 3, 2008 and again on May 16,
2014. (Carranza Aff. Ex. 1 at 1-2, ECF No. 14-2). On July 21,
2017, Chase Bank notified Sunmonu that it had decided to
close his account, which at the time had a balance of $9,
600.34. (Compl. ¶¶ 6-7; id. Ex. A, ECF No.
1-1). Chase Bank told Sunmonu that “he
would receive a check for his funds within two weeks, ”
but he did not. (Compl. ¶ 7). On September 8, 2017 and
January 8, 2018, Sunmonu wrote letters to Chase Bank, stating
that he had not yet received the check. (Id.
¶¶ 8-9; id. Exs. B, C, ECF Nos. 1-2, 1-3).
On May 21, 2018, Chase Bank responded, to Sunmonu's
counsel, refusing to release Sunmonu's funds.
(Id. ¶ 10; Ex. D, ECF No. 1-4). Chase Bank
placed Sunmonu's funds in a “suspense
account.” (Id. ¶ 24).
9, 2018, Sunmonu filed a three-Count Complaint against Chase
Bank, alleging: breach of contract (Count I); breach of the
implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count II);
and unjust enrichment (Count III). (Id. ¶¶
11-26). In addition to injunctive relief, Sunmonu seeks
compensatory and punitive damages as well as his
attorney's fees and costs. (Id. at 4).
June 9, 2018, Sunmonu filed his Motion for Temporary
Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunctive Relief (ECF No.
On July 31, 2018, Chase Bank filed a combined Opposition and
Motion to Compel Arbitration. (ECF No. 14). On August 12,
2018, Sunmonu filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 15). On August
23, 2018, Chase Bank filed a Reply. (ECF No. 16). The Court
first turns to Chase Bank's Motion because the resolution
of that Motion will determine whether the case proceeds in
to Compel Arbitration
standard of review on a motion to compel arbitration under
the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) is
“akin to the burden on summary judgment.”
Novic v. Midland Funding, LLC, 271 F.Supp.3d 778,
782 (D.Md. 2017) (quoting Galloway v. Santander Consumer
USA, Inc., 819 F.3d 79, 85 (4th Cir. 2016) (internal
quotation omitted)). In reviewing a motion for summary
judgment, the Court views the facts in a light most favorable
to the nonmovant, drawing all justifiable inferences in that
party's favor. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557,
586 (2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress &
Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Summary judgment is
proper when the movant demonstrates, through
“particular parts of materials in the record, including
depositions, documents, electronically stored information,
affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions,
interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” that
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A). Significantly, a
party must be able to present the materials it cites in
“a form that would be admissible in evidence, ”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), and supporting affidavits and
declarations “must be made on personal knowledge”
and “set out facts that would be admissible in
evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). In the context of a
motion to compel arbitration under the FAA, “the party
seeking a jury trial must make an unequivocal denial that an
arbitration agreement exists- and must also show sufficient
facts in support.” Chorley Enters., Inc. v.
Dickey's Barbecue Rests., Inc., 807 F.3d 553, 564
(4th Cir. 2015) (citing Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. v.
Neidhardt, 56 F.3d 352, 358 (2d Cir.1995)).
provides, with limited exceptions, that agreements to
arbitrate “shall be valid, irrevocable, and
enforceable.” 9 U.S.C. § 2 (2018). To compel
arbitration, the moving party must 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.'” Galloway, 819 F.3d at 84
(quoting Rota-McLarty v. Santander Consumer USA,
Inc., 700 F.3d 690, 696 n.6 (4th Cir. 2012). Sunmonu
only disputes the second element in his two-page Opposition.
Deposit Agreement, which Sunmonu admits in his Complaint is
valid and binding, compels arbitration of this dispute.
First, there is clearly a dispute between the parties.
Sunmonu alleges there was $9, 600.34 in his Chase Bank
account when the bank closed it and that the bank has wrongly
withheld it from him. (Compl. ¶ 7). Chase Bank denies
these allegations in its Answer. (Answer ¶ 7).
the Deposit Agreement requires the parties to submit this
dispute to arbitration. Chase Bank includes a hyperlink to
the Deposit Agreement in its Motion and attaches
Sunmonu's “signature cards” indicating his
assent to the Deposit Agreement. (Def.'s Mot. &
Opp'n at 1; Carranza Aff. Ex. 1 at 1-2). The Deposit
Agreement provides that Sunmonu and Chase Bank “agree
that upon the election of either of us, any dispute relating
in any way to [Sunmonu's] account . . . will be resolved
by binding arbitration . . . and not through litigation in
any court (except for matters in small claims court).”
(Deposit Agreement at 14). The Deposit Agreement defines
arbitrable claims broadly: “[c]laims or disputes
between you and us about your deposit account, transactions
involving your deposit account, ” and “[a]ny
claims or disputes arising from or relating to this
agreement.” (Id.). The dispute here fits
within this broad language. Sunmonu argues that Chase Bank
“is unable to prove or disavows the existence of a
valid and binding agreement between the parties, ”
(Pl.'s Opp'n ¶ 3, ECF No. 15), but offers no
support for that proposition. He does not dispute the
authenticity of the Desposit Agreement or argue that his
assent to its terms was in any way defective. To the
contrary, Sunmonu admitted the validity of the Deposit
Agreement in his Complaint.
the transaction in dispute here relates to interstate
commerce. The parties are citizens of different states, and
Chase Bank necessarily conducts interstate commerce as a
national bank. Fourth, Sunmonu failed to or refused to
arbitrate the dispute. The Deposit Agreement calls for
arbitration of “any dispute relating in any way to
[Sunmonu's] account, ” (Deposit Agreement at 14),
yet Sunmonu filed suit in this Court. Presented with Chase
Bank's election to arbitrate per the Deposit Agreement,
Sunmonu has refused to do so, including in his Opposition.
makes a one-line procedural argument-that Chase Bank did not
give him the five days' notice required by the FAA-but
without any discussion of its import or impact, that argument
is unpersuasive. Section 4 of the FAA states that the party
seeking to arbitrate must give the opposing party
“[f]ive days' notice in writing of such application
. . . made in the manner provided by the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure.” 9 U.S.C. § 4. But Chase
Bank's Motion is not a “petition” seeking to
initiate arbitration in the Section 4 sense because Chase
Bank merely moves to redirect Sunmonu's claims to an
arbitral forum. In other words, Sunmonu initiated this
lawsuit, not Chase Bank. As this Court held in In re
Titanium Dioxide Antitrust Litig., a motion to compel
arbitration “is not meant to initiate an arbitration;
an order compelling arbitration simply clarifies the forum in
which the claim may be asserted.” 962 F.Supp.2d 840,
855 (D.Md. 2013). Chase Bank, therefore, is “not
obligated to fulfill conditions precedent” of
initiating arbitration, such as giving five days' notice.
Id. Further, Sunmonu has not argued any prejudice as
a result of the alleged notice failure, and the intervening
months since Chase Bank filed its Motion have surely cured
any unfair surprise.
Chase Bank has made the necessary showing on the four
requirements to compel arbitration, and Sunmonu has not made
the necessary showing to defeat Chase Bank's Motion.
Chorley Enters., Inc., 807 F.3d at 564. As a result,
the Court will grant Chase Bank's Motion and will direct
Sunmonu to pursue these claims, if at all, in arbitration.
The Court now turns to Sunmonu's Motion.
for Temporary Restraining Order and ...