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Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc.

United States District Court for the Western District of Washington

April 23, 2019, Decided; April 23, 2019, Filed

CASE NO. C16-1554-JCC

Opinion

 [*1198]  ORDER

This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to compel arbitration (Dkt. No. 36). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court finds oral argument [**3]  unnecessary and hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are delivery drivers working for Defendants Amazon.com or Amazon Logistics. (Dkt. No. 76 at 1.) Plaintiffs are parties to individual contracts with Defendants (collectively, the "contract"), and Defendants have classified Plaintiffs as independent contractors.1 (Id.) Of the tens of thousands of putative class members, all but approximately 165 are parties to a contract with Defendants containing a provision mandating individual arbitration (the "Arbitration Provision"). (See Dkt. Nos. 49 at 4, 77 at 2, 37-1, 37-2.) The Arbitration Provision further mandates that the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA") will govern any disputes arising between the parties. (See Dkt. Nos. 37-1 at 5, 37-2 at 7.)

Directly after the contract's Arbitration Provision, a provision entitled "Governing Law" (the "Governing Law Provision") states: "These Terms are governed by the law of the state of Washington without regard to its conflict of laws principles. However, the preceding sentence does not apply to [the Arbitration Provision], which is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act and applicable federal [**4]  law." (Dkt. No. 37-1 at 5.)

 [*1199]  At the heart of Plaintiffs' complaint is their allegation that Defendants have misclassified Plaintiffs as independent contractors instead of employees. (See Dkt. No. 83.) Simultaneous to when this lawsuit was filed, the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court were poised to answer questions relevant to the arbitrability of Plaintiffs' claims. (See Dkt. No. 77.) As a result, the Court stayed this action, pending those decisions. (Id.) Those questions have now been answered, and the parties stipulate to a partial lift of the stay so that the Court can determine the arbitrability of Plaintiffs' claims. (See Dkt. Nos. 100, 101.)

II. DISCUSSION

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383 F. Supp. 3d 1196 *; 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68755 **; 2019 WL 1777725

BERNADEAN RITTMANN, et al., Plaintiffs, v. AMAZON.COM, INC., et al., Defendants.

Prior History: Rittmann v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31457 (W.D. Wash., Mar. 6, 2017)

CORE TERMS

arbitration, arbitration provision, transportation, parties, exemption, interstate commerce, delivery, interstate, contracts, driver, courts, deliver, distribution center, valid agreement, postal worker, travelled, packages, shipped, cases, state line, Governing Law, intrastate, employees