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United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
March 15, 2016, Submitted; May 10, 2016, Filed
[*1048] MURPHY, Circuit Judge.
Richard Messina sued his former employer, North Central Distributing, Inc. d/b/a Yosemite Home Decor ("Yosemite") in Minnesota state court for breach of contract and wrongful termination. Yosemite removed the case to federal court, [*1049] filed an answer, and later moved to transfer venue to the Eastern District of California. The district court1 denied that motion. Then, eight months after Messina filed his complaint, Yosemite moved to compel arbitration. The court denied that motion as well, after finding that Yosemite had acted inconsistently with its right to arbitration to the prejudice [**2] of Messina. It thus concluded that Yosemite had thereby waived the right. Yosemite appeals that decision. We affirm.
Messina traveled to Fresno, California in August of 2012 to negotiate and sign an employment contract with Yosemite's vice president Rockie Bogenschutz. Messina alleges that the two year contract made him Yosemite's vice president of sales and allowed him to work from his home in Minnesota. Messina also signed an arbitration agreement separate from the employment contract. Messina worked for Yosemite for about six months until he was terminated in January 2013.
Messina sued Yosemite in Minnesota state court for wrongful termination and breach of contract on July 1, 2014 and served Yosemite on July 7. Yosemite removed the case to federal court in the District of Minnesota in August. It then filed an answer raising twenty four affirmative defenses but did not mention arbitration. The parties filed a joint Rule 26(f) report in November which included a discovery and motion schedule and stipulated that the parties would be ready for trial in August 2015. The report also stated that the parties [**3] had discussed alternative dispute resolution and recommended mediation, but this report also did not mention arbitration.
On November 26 Yosemite moved to transfer venue to the Eastern District of California where it is headquartered. Messina states that counsel for the two parties conferred several times by phone prior to the filing of the transfer motion and that Yosemite's counsel never mentioned arbitration. In its motion Yosemite argued that convenience of the parties, convenience of the witnesses, and the location of evidence favored a transfer to Fresno. Again it did not mention arbitration. Messina's response in opposition to the motion to transfer included several affidavits and identified a list of witnesses who might testify on his behalf. On December 2 the parties attended a Rule 16 scheduling conference at which Yosemite again failed to mention arbitration. The district court denied Yosemite's motion to transfer on January 27, 2015.
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821 F.3d 1047 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8562 **; 166 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P61,706; 100 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P45,549; 41 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 571
Richard A. Messina, Plaintiff - Appellee v. North Central Distributing, Inc., doing business as Yosemite Home Decor, Defendant - Appellant
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.
Messina v. N. Cent. Distrib., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188999 (D. Minn., Jan. 27, 2015)
arbitration, right to arbitration, district court, compel arbitration, motion to transfer, discovery, parties, venue, waived
Business & Corporate Compliance, Pretrial Matters, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Judicial Review, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clearly Erroneous Review, De Novo Review, Arbitration, Waiver, Arbitrability, Arbitration