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Marketti v. Cordish Companies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 21, 2019

TESSA MARKETTI, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CORDISH COMPANIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          A David Copperthite United States District Judge.

         Defendants, The Cordish Companies, Inc. and Luckie's Baltimore, LLC, move this Court to compel arbitration of all claims brought by Plaintiffs, Tessa Marketti, Steve Ortiz, Angela Boughner, April Gischel, and Kelsey Schultz, and to dismiss the action pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (the "Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Litigation") (ECF No. 18). After considering the Motion, Defendants' supplemental memorandum in support of its Motion (ECF No. 19), and the responses thereto (ECF Nos. 20, 21), the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc.R. 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Litigation.

         Factual Background

         This lawsuit arises out of Plaintiffs' allegations of improper wage payment by Defendants in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), Internal Revenue Code ("IRC"), Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL"), and Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law ("MWPCL"). ECF No. 1. The Cordish Companies, Inc. owns and operates a series of entertainment districts nationwide, including Power Plant Live! in Baltimore, Maryland. Id. at 5, ¶ 6. Power Plant Live is comprised of several bars and restaurants, including Luckie's Baltimore, LLC which operates under the name Luckie's Tavern. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Plaintiffs are former bartenders that were employed at Luckie's Tavern or one of the other bars operated by Defendants at Power Plant Live! for various periods of time between 2015 and 2019. Id. at 6, 8, ¶¶ 17-19, 36-39; ECF Nos. 8, 12.

         Upon commencing employment with Defendants, Plaintiffs entered into a Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate (the "Agreement"). ECF No. 18-2; ECF Nos. 19-3, 19-4. As part of the Agreement, Plaintiffs agreed to a broad arbitration provision, which states in relevant part:

[B]oth you and [Defendants] each agree that all Claims, as defined below, between you and [Defendants] will be exclusively decided by arbitration before a neutral arbitrator and not a court or jury.
As used in this Agreement, "Claims" means all disputes between you and [Defendants] that could be brought in court, including but not limited to, all claims arising out of your employment and the cessation of employment including any claim that could have been presented to or could have been brought before any court, and includes, but is not limited to, any claim arising under federal, state or local law, under a statute such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 1981 through 1988 of Title 42 of the United States Code; under any rule, regulation, statute, common law, or contract, including, but not limited to any claim of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, defamation, or wrongful discharge. This Agreement is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.

ECF No. 18-2 at 2. Plaintiffs also agreed to waive their right to pursue any class action or collective action as well as their right to a jury trial. Id. at 3 ("The parties agree all Claims must be pursued on an individual basis only. By signing this Agreement, you waive your right to commence, or be a party to, any class action or collective action or to bring jointly any Claims against [Defendants] with any other person. By signing this Agreement, you waive your right to [a] jury trial.").

         During their respective periods of employment, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants: (1) required Plaintiffs to perform non-tipped work that was "wholly unrelated" to their occupation and failed to pay them the applicable minimum wage for such work, ECF No. 1 at 9-10, ¶¶ 43-50; (2) required Plaintiffs to perform non-tipped work that exceeded twenty percent of their time each week and failed to pay them the applicable minimum wage for such work, id.; (3) failed to pay Plaintiffs the correct amount of overtime, id. at 10, ¶ 51; and (4) operated an "illegal tip sharing arrangement"[1] and, as a result, knowingly filed fraudulent W-2 forms to the IRS, id. at 4, 10-14, ¶¶ 52-72.

         Procedural Background

         On March 27, 2019, Plaintiffs filed suit in this Court, proposing a FLSA collective action on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated bartenders as well as class action claims for violations of the IRC, MWHL, and MWPCL pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 on behalf of themselves and other current and former bartenders employed with Defendants. Id. at 14-20, ¶¶ 77-116.[2]

         On May 2, 2019, Defendants filed the Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Litigation. ECF No. 18. Plaintiffs filed an opposition on May 16, 2019, ECF No. 20, and Defendants replied on May 30, 2019, ECF No. 21. This matter is now fully briefed, and the Court has reviewed Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Litigation, as well as the responses thereto. For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Dismiss the Litigation (ECF No. 18) is GRANTED.

         Discussion

         A. Standard of Review for Motion ...


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