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Brumley v. Austin Centers for Exceptional Students Incorporated

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 6, 2019

Aryn Brumley, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Austin Centers for Exceptional Students Incorporated, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         Before the Court is Defendant Austin Centers for Exceptional Students Incorporated's (“ACES”) motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaint as untimely or to compel arbitration.[1] (Doc. 46.) The motion is fully briefed.[2] (Docs. 49, 56.) For the following reasons, ACES' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. Background

         ACES is a state-certified school for special education students. (Doc. 42 ¶ 28.) A.B., who is autistic and has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, began attending ACES in 2015. (¶¶ 35, 43.) Plaintiffs allege that, on March 31, 2017, an ACES employee used excessive force to get A.B. onto a school bus, and in doing so broke A.B.'s wrist. (¶¶ 76, 78-102, 127-130.)

         As part of A.B.'s enrollment at ACES, A.B. and Aryn signed, among other things, a Behavioral Intervention Policy and a Parent/Guardian Commitment (collectively “Enrollment Paperwork”). (¶¶ 57-68.) The Behavioral Intervention Policy contains an arbitration agreement, which provides:

All parties agree that any dispute which arises as a result of any behavioral intervention shall be filed within ninety (90) days and shall be decided by binding arbitration only with both parties agreeing to the selection of an arbitrator who is professionally competent in special education administration and behavioral health. Any award shall not exceed the amount of actual expenses and arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association [“AAA”], a copy of which is available from the principal on any ACES campus.

(Doc. 46-1 at 2.)

         Moreover, in signing the Parent/Guardian Commitment, Aryn and A.B. agreed that they “read and understand the information in the Parent/Student Handbook [(“Handbook”)] and [] agree to follow those guidelines.” (Id. at 11.) The Handbook, likewise, provides an arbitration agreement, which states:

As a condition of enrollment [] ACES and any other party responsible for a student agree to submit any and all disputes that might arise regarding a student to binding arbitration and any award shall not exceed the amount of actual expenses. The parties shall mutually agree to the selection of an arbitrator who is professionally competent in special education administration and behavioral health. The arbitration shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of the [AAA] and copies of those rules are available for review from the principal on any ACES campus.

(Id. at 6.) According to Plaintiffs, ACES did not explain the arbitration provisions and did not provide a copy of the Handbook. (Doc. 42 ¶¶ 60-63.)

         On August 3, 2018, Plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint, alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the and Americans with Disabilities Act, and raising state law tort claims. (Doc. 42.) ACES moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' first amended complaint as untimely or, in the alternative, to compel arbitration. (Doc. 46.)

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) provides that written agreements to arbitrate disputes arising out of transactions involving interstate commerce “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable except upon grounds that exist at common law for the revocation of a contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2; see AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011) (discussing liberal federal policy favoring valid arbitration agreements). The FAA “leaves no place for the exercise of discretion by a district court, but instead mandates that district courts shall direct the parties to proceed to arbitration on issues as to which an arbitration agreement has been signed.” Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. v. Byrd, 470 U.S. 213, 218 (1985) (emphasis in original). The court must compel arbitration where: (1) a valid agreement to arbitrate exists, and (2) the agreement encompasses the dispute at issue. Chiron Corp. v. Ortho Diagnostic Sys., Inc., 207 F.3d 1126, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000). “Where a contract contains an arbitration [agreement], courts apply a presumption of arbitrability as to particular grievances, and the party resisting arbitration bears the burden of establishing that the arbitration agreement is inapplicable.” Wynn Resorts, Ltd. v. Atl.-Pac. Capital, Inc., 497 Fed. App'x. 740, 742 (9th Cir. 2012).

         III. Discussion[3]

         ACES seeks to compel arbitration pursuant to the arbitration provisions contained in the Enrollment Paperwork. ACES argues that the question of arbitrability has been delegated to the arbitrator and thus the scope of this Court's review is narrow. (Doc. 46 at 6.) Plaintiffs argue that the agreement's delegation provision is unenforceable and that, even ...


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